From back office to center stage, Dot leaves mark on First Night

Japanese monster wrestling matches, a Bollywood film
marathon, and some admittedly less exotic performances by a variety of Dorchester/Mattapan stalwarts will usher in 2010 as part of the 34th annual First Night Boston, the country’s oldest, largest and most-often-copied New Year’s arts celebration.

Tomorrow, Thursday Dec. 31, 2009 from 1 p.m. to midnight, First Night presents an afternoon/evening festival of art, music, dance, ice sculpture, fireworks and more. First Night is an alcohol-free event that welcomes revelers of all ages to celebrate community and unity through the arts. The festival will feature over 1000 artists in 200 exhibitions and performances in over 35 locations in Boston.
Among the free public events is the Metro Boston Grand Procession, which leaves from the Hynes Convention Center (HCC) at 5:30p.m. for the Boston Common. Organizers note, “This year’s procession is dedicated

to our friend Brother Blue, beloved storyteller, who died on Nov. 3, 2009. This will be the first First Night ever without him. A fixture in Cambridge and Boston for many years, Brother Blue personified the
spirit of First Night.”

Among the Dorchester processors will be students from
Codman Academy, who as part of First Night’s Neighborhood Network, created giant puppets to carry.

For the third year, a troop of 35-40 kids from the Thomas J. Kenny School Marching Band will play under the direction of Jerry Chu. These third through fifth graders will be twirling flags and playing drums, flutes, clarinets, trumpets and trombones.

In past years, Stephen and Cynthia Coker of Dynasty
Productions (Mattapan) have coaxed fellow islanders to show off their sparkly, feathery costumes from the August Caribbean Carnival Parade. This year the “mas” dancers will be strutting in outfits inspired by the theme “The Sign of the Pagan,” commemorating Attila
the Hun and his fellow 5th century Mongolians. Instead of their usual skimpy attire, these Caribbean revelers will be more seasonally dressed in satins, animal skins, fox tails and other furs.
The indoor action begins at 1 p.m. with the Family Festival at the HCC. Over the years a consistent crowd-pleaser there has been the A. Major Dance Company (a punning reference to organizer and Dot
resident Andrea Herbert Major). This year the troupe, based at the Roxbury Center for the Arts (which despite its name is located in Dorchester), will feature three different sets performed by a group
of about 30 youngsters (almost all of whom come from Dorchester/Roxbury) in HCC Hall C: 2- 2:30 p.m. (African Dance), 3:30 - 4 p.m. (variety including jazz, tap), 5 - 5:30 p.m. (Michael Jackson Tribute).

For the twelfth straight year, Melville Park resident Heinrich Christensen will be giving a 9 p.m. all-Bach recital on the C. Fisk organ at King’s chapel, where he is music director. Christensen says, “The program is partly a preview of a larger production of his German Organ Mass that I'll be doing in February.”

New this year will be an 8 p.m. performance in HCC Room 207 by The Painted Lights, fronted by St. Mark’s area resident, Brendan Little. Though the band tries not to limit itself to any one genre, Little describes their sound as “melodic rock with drive and energy, but the intimate feel of an acoustic performance.”

Behind the scenes local residents are overseeing and
organizing to keep this gigantic event running smoothly. Alene Burroughs (Mattapan) is First Night’s Office Manager & Marketing Associate. Dorchester’s Emerson Kington puts in yet another year as the Hynes Convention Center Site Manager. Joyce Linehan of Ashmont Media continues as Director of Public Relations.

First Night admission buttons are $18 this year (same
price as 2008!). They’re available at all Shaw’s supermarkets and Tedeschi and Store 24 outlets. Buttons are good for First Month (January) offering holders discounted admissions around the city including the JFK Library. A complete schedule, including times and exact locations can be found at www.firstnight.org.