With Music Beyond Borders in Morristown, the world is literally at your doorstep.
Now in its eighth season, Music Beyond Borders: World Music and Dance is a festival put on jointly by Morris Arts and the Mayo Performing Arts Center, taking place at the Morristown Green on Park Place in Morristown, NJ. Every other Tuesday from June to August, music and dance groups from all over the globe bring free performances to those lucky enough to be in (or can get to) Morristown for a Tuesday afternoon break.
Next Tuesday, July 25, the unique, award-winning multi-ethnic music and dance group Féraba invites you to join them to explore the universal language of rhythm from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. This is the third of four Music Beyond Borders performances this summer: the two earlier performances featured Irish fiddle music on June 27 and the Redhawk Native American Arts Council and Dance Troupe on July 11.
Founded in 1996, Féraba is dedicated to the appreciation and preservation of American tap dance and traditional West African music, dance and culture. In their performances, they fuse the traditional sounds and movements of West Africa with American tap dance, as well as hip-hop and jazz. The group’s mission is to inform, educate and entertain using rhythm, promoting the ideal of friendship, tolerance and cultural understanding among people of all nations. Sound fascinating? I agree.
If you come on July 25, some of the performers you’ll see and hear are Féraba’s artistic director and prominent tap dancer Irene Koloseus, along with group members Ibrahima Kolipe Camar (a master drummer from Guinea), Andy Algira (drummer, percussionist, balafonist and pianist with jazz and African music expertise) and Yalani Bangoura (master dancer, performer, choreographer, acrobat and hip hop artist from Guinea).
Get a sneak peek as to the kind of treats Féraba has in store for you by checking them out on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Gmj3hev2bCc.
So if you work in Morristown, clear your schedule on Tuesday, July 25 around lunchtime, so you can take a break and head to Morristown Green for an incredible lunchtime treat. Not working that day but live in the area? Great! Bring a brown bag lunch and experience a world music and dance celebration while getting to know your neighbors. It’s a really great way to get a feel for a range of cultures and other parts of the world without leaving your hometown.
Audiences of all ages and backgrounds have been loving these performances since they first began in 2010, so bring the kids or invite the parents. Heck, if you’re walking your dogs in the area at the time, I bet they’ll enjoy the performance, too!
Morris Arts and the Mayo Center for the Performing Arts say that this showcase of world music and dance is designed to reflect the diverse cultures and population of the area. And it seems like they’re succeeding in showcasing a wide variety of cultures: to date, the festival has presented music and dance from countries and regions on six of the seven continents. (On a related note: If you’re part of Antarctica’s burgeoning music and dance scene, there are some folks in Morristown who are eager to hear from you!)
The Music Beyond Borders series was originally conceived by the Mayo Performing Arts Center as part of their outreach to the diverse communities in the Morristown area. Dr. Lynn Siebert, director of arts participation and communications at Morris Arts, tells me that their two groups mutually agree upon what countries or regions should be featured each season and then Siebert researches the artists and books them for the season, while also handling the attendance details. Mayo provides much logistical help, including funding, and helps with production efforts such as providing the portable sound system (of crucial importance, as any outdoor music festival will attest!), banners and interns to staff the festival.
Siebert tells me that what she finds especially gratifying about this project is that it attracts people of every ethnicity, age and background, since it’s free and open to all.
“The music and dance draw people in and, for that one hour, there are no boundaries among people—they just share a common bond of enjoyment,” continued Siebert. “It’s a way to build a community, to broaden people’s understanding and appreciation of different cultures and to remind us all how much the beauty of music/dance can bring joy to our lives.”
Not only is it free and open to all, but one of the great things about this Music Beyond Borders festival is that it takes out in the open – in the middle of the community.
Perhaps you didn’t know about it, and just stumbled across the performance. Or perhaps you thought about going, but were intimidated to go alone, until you stopped by and saw friends and neighbors just waiting to enjoy the performance with you. Or maybe you’re just not convinced that this kind of thing is for you, and want to skulk about at the fringes, while you either enjoy just a few minutes of the performance, or decide to dive in deeper and take a seat.
Whatever your plans, Morris Arts and MPAC encourage you to give Music Beyond Borders and Féraba a try on July 25 and experience West African dance, drumming and tap dancing during lunchtime.
But if you’re booked that day, you have one more shot to get to the Music Beyond Borders festival this summer. The last concert in this year’s series takes place on Tuesday, August 8 at 12:30 p.m.: the Music from China Trio, founded in 1986, will perform a concert of traditional and new music.
Morris Arts presents Music Beyond Borders: Féraba on Tuesday, July 25 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at The Morristown Green, located at Park Place in Morristown, NJ. In case of rain, the event will take place at the United Methodist Church at 50 Park Place. The event is free. For more information, visit morrisarts.org or call 973.285.5115.