The Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College, born in 1954, is celebrating more than just the start of another exciting season this fall – it’s celebrating a very important birthday.
“Were really excited to enter into this landmark year for us,” said Director Jon Yanofsky of the 2014-2015 season that will open on Saturday, November 1. “It’s amazing to think that six decades have gone by and the Brooklyn Center is still here and vibrant and doing what it does.”
It’s also a great source of pride, he said.
“That pride comes from just thinking about not only the caliber and volume of outstanding artists who grace and have graced our stage,” he said, “but also thinking about the millions of people who have enjoyed and continue to enjoy these live performances in our halls.”
To celebrate, the season is starting – and running through May – with a bang, or two.
“I think what we tried to do is put together a really dynamic, high-profile season,” said Yanofsky, noting that 10-time Grammy Award-winning vocalist Bobby McFerrin will open the showcase. “Someone like Bobby is a really special way to kick off our season because he’s someone who needs no introduction. We really wanted to start with someone of his caliber and appeal.”
From there, Brooklyn Center will welcome top-notch performances from newcomers and veterans to the Brooklyn Center’s Walt Whitman stage including Black Violin, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the National Dance Theater of Jamaica – a group Yanofsky says oftentimes uses the Brooklyn Center stage as its sole United States platform – among others.
“There are some folks who have been a part of our seasons in the past that we wanted to bring back,” said the director, mentioning the National Dance Theater of Jamaica’s nearly 30-year run with the venue, “but I also think that we’re kind of expanding some of our programs to reflect some of the changing demographics in the borough.”
According to Yanofsky, this season will see some spectacular family-friendly programming such as a “huge production” of Jim Henson’s ‘Dinosaur Train Live: Buddy’s Big Adventure,” a musical adventure based on the hit PBS Kids series as well as a special blend of jazz, R&B, folk and Afro-Caribbean tunes by Hot Peas ‘N Butter that will have kids dancing in the aisles.
“We wanted the season to reflect the diversity of Brooklyn and give it the proper stature of a 60th anniversary season,” said Yanofsky whose favorite parts of the season include opening night, as well as the season’s pre-show conversations and events – something he said there’s even more of this year – and the program’s annual Earth Day celebration, held for the past eight years on the plaza in front of the Whitman Theater.
“About 1,500 to 2,000 people participated last year,” the director said of the free Earth Day event, sponsored by National Grid and to be held this season on Sunday, April 19, 2015. “To me, it just really represents who and what we are in a real community sense. Every walk of life and every culture is represented, there are a lot of languages spoken, it’s intergenerational and, to be honest, it’s just a whole lot of fun.”
The same seems to go for the entire series.
“We’re very excited about this year,” he said. “It’s going to be a good one.”
While most of Brooklyn Center’s performances are priced and ticketed, some are free. Performances take place in the Whitman Theater, located at 2900 Campus Road on the Brooklyn College campus. For more information, a full season schedule or ticket purchases, visit www.brooklyncenter.org.