First Night infused with Dot talent

By 
Chris Harding, Special to the Reporter
Dec. 27, 2012

Codman Academy students create dragons for First Night: Image courtesy Codman AcademyCodman Academy students create dragons for First Night: Image courtesy Codman AcademyThis New Year’s Eve, indoors or out, everywhere you turn, you’ll find Dorchester residents sharing their creative talents to offer a wild welcome to 2013, from the flying dragons created at Codman Academy to a time-travelers’ ball orchestrated by an Ashmont Hill SteamCRUNK band.

This Monday, Dec. 31, First Night, Boston, America’s oldest, largest and most-often-copied New Year’s Eve cultural celebration, jam-packs the hours between noon and midnight with art, music, dance, fireworks and ice sculptures (including “Unity 2013” and “Jack and the Beanstalk”). Over 1000 artists will be featured in 200 exhibitions and performances in 40 Hub locations, entertaining hundreds of thousands.

One of the best-attended free public events will be the Panorama Magazine Grand Procession, which leaves from the Hynes Convention Center (HCC) at 5:30p.m. for the Common. Organizers describe this year’s theme, “From the Harbor to the Common, the subway to the street, our city is a study in contrasts, with elements from nature meeting the built environment at every intersection of our daily lives.”

The teens at Codman Academy interpreted this theme with “Flying Fire Dragons,” that possibly lurk underground, “made from large piles of total random materials,” according Sara Peattie of the Puppeteers Collaborative. Franklin Field/ Franklin Hill Dorchester “Healthy Boston” built “glowing house” lanterns for the parade.

Mattapan’s Dynasty Productions once more will bedazzle the procession with sparkly, feathery costumes from this August’s Caribbean Carnival Parade. The Mather School and Kenny School Marching Bands will again blare their youthful, brassy salutes.

Later from 7:30 to 11 p.m. in the HCC Auditorium , Walter Sickert, winner of the Boston Phoenix Reader’s Poll – Best Artist 2011 and 2012, and founder/impresario of the Ashmont Hill-based SteamCRUNK band, Walter Sickert & the ARmy of BRoken TOys, will host an evening of “Time Traveling wonderment,” previewing their new album Soft Time Traveler and beckoning, “Come on an adventure through time and space from Jules Verne to Jim Henson, sliding down the rabbit wormhole like Alice 20,000 leagues under the Labyrinth.”

For a more classical spin through the centuries, Melville Park’s Heinrich Christensen will be giving a 9 p.m. recital on the C. B. Fisk organ at King’s Chapel, where he is music director. For his fourteenth First Night, the Nixon Street resident explains, “From King David dancing all over the Bible to Scott Joplin’s ‘Wall Street Rag,’ my program will celebrate raucous dancing through the ages.”

Speaking of which, Dot dance troupes will be back again energizing crowds. A. Major Dance Company, based in Dorchester Center, will offer lyrical jazz, hip hop and African dance demos in 4 and 5 p.m. shows at the HCC. Dot’s Sean Fielder and his Boston Tap Company will be hoofing and hollering it in HCC Ballroom B from 9:30-11 p.m.

Behind the scenes local residents keep this gigantic event running smoothly. Alene Burroughs (Mattapan) is First Night’s longtime Office Manager & Marketing Associate. Dorchester’s Emerson Kington logs yet another year as the HCC Site Manager. Joyce Linehan of Ashmont Media continues as Director of Public Relations.

Nationally known performers (many with local roots) will join Bostonians in ringing in the new year, including Lee Fields, world-touring R & B artist with a career spanning 43 years and releases on 12 different record labels. The reunion of jazz guitar master and Berklee grad John Scofield with his legendary group Überjam will be broadcast live in Boston on 89.7 and on stations across the country as part of NPR’s annual New Year’s Eve broadcast “Toast of the Nation.”

First Night admission buttons are $18 (same price as 2008!), available at the Shaw’s on Morrissey Blvd. and the Everett Square Tedeschi’s. This year’s button was designed by Maria Termini, former member of the Dorchester Arts Council. An updated schedule can be found at firstnight.org.

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