A Celebration of Music and Dance at Little Island

For 10 days, multigenerational artists from across genres will fill the island-park with sound and movement

| 15 Jul 2022 | 02:30

Little Island’s Music and Dance Festival 2022 begins July 20 with the sounds of piano filling the night air of the whimsical New York City park that sits atop supersized “tulip pots” rising from the Hudson River at West 13th Street. For the next 10 days through July 31, a multi-generational group of artists performing across genres from jazz to blues, classical and hip hop and dance will take over the 2.4 acre island-park in vibrant sound and movement.

Numerous free performances are scheduled throughout each day, with advanced tickets available for purchase at littleisland.org for access to the nightly performances that will take place in The Amph, the 687-seat performance space overlooking the Hudson River.

“It’s going to be a joyful, celebratory time,” said Michael McElroy, co-curator of the festival and one of Little Island’s inaugural artists-in-residence selected in 2021 on the park’s opening. “It’s a celebration of music, it’s a celebration of New York City [and] a celebration of the artists that are creating such amazing, powerful music.”

McElroy, actor, singer, music director and acclaimed Broadway performer, said that he and co-curators, fellow artist-in-residence tap dancer and choreographer Ayodele Casel, and director/producer Torya Beard, wanted to offer New Yorkers a festival that “celebrates legacy” of established artists in music and dance, while also uplifting a new generation that is innovating and moving each art form forward.

Three piano greats “at different stages in their lives and career” will open the performances for two days in the aptly named “A Night of Musical Masters” on July 20 and 21 at 8:00 p.m. in The Amph.

Joel Martin, classical and jazz pianist who has been performing for several decades and who created a musical form called “Jazzical,” the intersection of jazz and classical music, will entertain the audience with a sound that is distinctly his own. Isaac Harlan “combines the sounds of jazz, Broadway and classical” in his performance, while the youngest pianist, 21-year-old Matthew Whitaker “literally plays every instrument and plays every type of music there is” says McElroy.

And there is plenty of dance over the 10 days.

Percussive Dance (includes a lot of high-energy footwork!) on days three and four, followed by Generation Dance! where veteran and emerging dancers explore the many genres of tap dancing. Beats, Rhymes, and Tap Shoes, a corps of dancers accompanied by a live band, will also perform among several groups of dancers at the festival.

Soul Fest

“Soul to Soul: Black Women in Music,” a concert by and a celebration of African American women in music, will be hosted by McElroy and Phylicia Rashad on July 27 and 28.

In keeping with the theme of legacy and innovation, the artists were asked to choose music that was either written by or performed by African American artists over time, McElroy said. “Start with spirituals, go to hymns, go to jazz, blues, to folk, to gospel, to R&B and to the 70s,” he said. And also adding new voices of a current generation of artists.

Capathia Jenkins, Lillias White and Melonie Daniels are some of the artists who will grace the stage for this soul fest celebrating Black women’s contribution to the American musical genres.

McElroy notes that the highly celebrated artists in New York City doing art forms to a level of excellence, need to be seen and enjoyed, and that is what this festival is about.

“To allow our audiences to once again connect to the arts in this beautiful space, and also learn something about the history of music,” is his hope.

For schedule and tickets, visit littleisland.org. Tickets are required in advance for The Amph performances.

“It’s going to be a joyful, celebratory time.” Michael McElroy, artist-in-residence and co-curator of the festival