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‘Let’s Dance Boston!’ coming to Rose Kennedy Greenway

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
‘Let’s Dance Boston!’ coming to Rose Kennedy Greenway
Participants get in the swing of things at previous “Let’s Dance Boston!” events. PHOTO: ROBERT TORRES

Celebrity Series of Boston’s “Let’s Dance Boston!” event allows Bostonians the opportunity to shake off two years of pandemic stress on the Rose Kennedy Greenway dance floor. The five-day free dance festival runs May 11–15 and features live music and classes in a wide variety of dance styles.

No dance experience is required to participate in the event, just enthusiasm. Each night will include a structured dance lesson, and a DJ will spin music for freestyle dance before and after the class. Non-dancers are also welcome to enjoy the music and watch the festival, which promises a week of community joy.

Participants get in the swing of things at previous “Let’s Dance Boston!” events. PHOTO: ROBERT TORRES

The classes and themed nights include East Coast Swing with instructors Katie and Paolo Piselli and music by Eyal Vilner Big Band; Mambo with instructors G “Masacote” Rossignol and Lisa Field-Coleman and music by Tito Puente Jr. and his orchestra; West Coast Swing with music by Motor City Revue; Salsa with instruction by Jenna Robey & Luis Talavera and music by Edwin Perez and his orchestra; and Garba with instructor Heena Patel and music by Kashyap Jani & Friends.

“It finally feels like we can have a full season of events,” says Keelin Caldwell, director of programs and community engagement for The Greenway Conservancy. “What better way to kick that off than with excellent musicians and free dancing in the park?”

Joy is central to the “Let’s Dance Boston!” experience, but a pleasant side effect is a cultural education. Patel, the teacher for the Indian Garba lesson, says, “When you have spaces where people can experiment and play and get exposed to different styles, I think that’s really powerful, because it allows people entry into these niche communities.”

PHOTO: ROBERT TORRES

Garba is a dance native to the Gujarat state in India and lends itself particularly well to the careful return to group gatherings. It is a community dance, but no one touches each other during it. Groups dance in concentric circles, performing a repeated sequence of steps while spinning slowly and then more quickly as the dance goes on. Everyone is dancing together, but not always the same sequences, and each dancer has their own flair. The result is a group of dynamic, multigenerational dancers coming together to dance in community.

In a way, what Garba creates is exactly what “Let’s Dance Boston!” is aiming for — bringing a wide range of people together to celebrate with the joy of movement. “Folk dance, folk music, is by the people, for the people,” says Patel. “Come with an open mind and be ready to sweat!”

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