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Sailing the Symbolic Symposium

Brooklyn’s Diverse Water Traditions




4 pm - 5:30 pm

Brooklyn water lore experts come together for presentations and performances about the pervasiveness of water symbolism in the borough’s diverse communities, ending with audience Q&A. Featuring Haitian Kesler Pierre blowing the conch shell trumpet and creating a vever (flour-drawing) for the vodun water deity Agwe; folklorist Dr. Joseph Sciorra discussing the ceremonial boat used in Italian Williamsburg’s annual "Giglio" Feast of  St. Paulinus; Winston “Jeggae” Hoppie singing Guyanese river songs; dancer Nisha Hettiarachchi  interpreting  kothala padhaya, a Sri Lankan water purification rite; folklorist Chris Mulé introducing Staten Island singer Bob Wright; Devorah Shubowitz illuminating Jewish tashlich, the symbolic casting away of sins by throwing bread on water; Baba Mpho, keeper of the drum for the annual memorial Tribute to Our Ancestors of the Middle Passage in Coney Island; Roland Lewis of Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance and more.


Presented by BAC in association with Brooklyn Public Library.


Presented as part of:

Harborlore Festival
Where the River Meets the Sea in Brooklyn’s Folk Imagination

Dance, Music and Storytelling 

May 10 – June 15, 2013

It’s no secret that Brooklyn is surrounded by over 50 miles of water from Greenpoint to Canarsie, and is also home to thousands of immigrants hailing from coastal locales across the globe—Jamaica, Bangladesh, Italy, Guyana, Egypt—where water is omnipresent. These immigrants, especially the artists among them, have brought cultural traditions to Brooklyn that capture the beauty, meaning and vulnerability of living at water’s edge.  For Harborlore Festival, BAC presents a series of free concerts, panel discussions and performing arts events exploring the role of water in the artistic traditions of Brooklyn’s diverse immigrant and diaspora communities. In post-Sandy New York, Harborlore Festival signals the importance of learning new respect and reverence for the power of water.

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Harborlore is sponsored by TD Bank.

BAC Folk Arts is sponsored by Con Edison.

Major support for Harborlore is provided by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council. Additional support is provided by New York Council for the Humanities. 

Promotional Partner: Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. Media partner: WNYC Radio.

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