Earthshake! Dancers rock Marine Park for Earth Day

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The colors of the wind: The Belly Mystics from the Brooklyn Dance Center perform a celebratory spring dance.
Welcoming spring and sun: Roman “Redhawk” Perez gives the Native-American blessing for Earth Day.
One with nature: Brooklyn Dance Center’s Yaritza Prendergast performs “Breathe.”
Sounds of spring: Carlos Eagle Feather plays the flute during the ceremony.

It was the mother of all nature parties.

The good vibes buzzed at the Salt Marsh Nature Center in Marine Park during the 11th-annual Earth Day celebration on April 17. More than 125 flower children honored Mother Nature with a trek around the center’s grounds, various dance and music performances, and Native American storytelling. And there was no better place to celebrate the world’s natural beauty than the sun-soaked waterfront in Brooklyn’s biggest park, one participant said.

“It’s the perfect spot to celebrate Earth Day. The space itself has been recycled — it’s been brought back to its original natural setting,” said Gail Kroog from the Brooklyn Dance Center. “People really enjoyed it. It was a beautiful day out.”

The nature center opened on Earth Day in 2000 on what was “formerly a wasteland filled with trash and abandoned cars,” according to friends group The Salt Marsh Alliance.

Roman “Redhawk” Perez of the Caribbean-native Taino Nation consecrated the land with a ceremonial blessing, said Kroog.

“He blessed the space — he blew a conch shell to each direction of the wind,” she said.

Hip-shakers choreographed their jiving with a nod to springtime renewal and rebirth. The genres varied — there were belly gyrations, contemporary movements, and Native-American steps — but everything jibed, Kroog said.

“It’s kind of unique, because all of the dances that were done were suitable for that event honoring mother earth,” she said.

Watching everyone sing, dance, and enjoy the good weather was the best part of the day, according to a torso-twister from the Belly Mystics.

“It was a lot of fun,” said 16-year-old Kayla Harmon from Gravesend. “I love doing it, because I get to watch other performances, see the musical performances, and everybody else.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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