To help North Forkers get in the holiday spirit, the Center for Advocacy, Support and Transformation in Southold will host a free, bilingual Christmas event this Friday.
Calpulli Mexican Dance Company will perform “Navidad: A Mexican-American Christmas” at CAST’s headquarters, located at 53930 Main Road on Friday, Dec. 8, at 6:30 p.m. Doors will open at 6 p.m.
Founded in New York City in 2003, the not-for-profit celebrates the “diversity of Mexican and Mexican-American cultural heritage through dance-based programming,” according to the troupe’s website. The approximately hour-long event will feature nine members of the company performing Aztec-inspired dance and ballet while sporting vibrant costumes. Accompanying them will be a guitarist, a vocalist and an accordion player, as well as a master of ceremonies who will guide the audience through the story in both Spanish and English.
“It’s kind of a retelling of ‘The Nutcracker,’ but through the eyes of a young Mexican American girl who’s sort of rejecting her parents’ Mexican roots,” said Siobhan O’Neill, CAST’s arts and culture program director. “In ‘The Nutcracker’ there’s a dream sequence, and this dream sequence is deeply steeped in Mexican-American lore and Aztec costumes and music.”
The performance will accomplish two goals for CAST. The advocacy group hopes to welcome the community into their newly renovated Treiber Gathering Hall, which was overhauled with a new stage, new curtains and new lighting and audio systems this summer. And, perhaps more importantly, they hope to include more clients and guests for whom English is not a primary language in their family-friendly community events.
“At CAST, we really try to do inclusive programming for all members of the community,” Ms. O’Neill said. “As much as possible, we try to do bilingual programming or Spanish-speaking performances or offerings because we really want our clients to feel welcome and have programming that really will speak to them.”
The evening will culminate with a Q&A with the performers.
“You get to ask questions of the dancers, they might demonstrate or talk about the different kinds of dance that you just saw in the show or Mexican heritage,” Ms. O’Neill said.
On Sunday at 2 p.m., the not-for-profit that has served low-income individuals and families for nearly 60 years will host another free Christmas event. British stage and screen actor Anatol Yusef, who spends time on the North Fork, will present “More Shining Than the Crown,” a program of Christmas readings. Mr. Yusef, along with two other visiting actors and Treiber Farms’ Pete Treiber Jr., will perform selected works by Walt Whitman, Dylan Thomas and Charles Dickens, including an abridged rendition of the classic “A Christmas Carol.” Doors open at 1:30 p.m. and Ms. O’Neill said holiday snacks will be available.
“[Mr. Yusef] wanted to do sort of a very traditional, cozy Christmas with readings of Dylan Thomas and Charles Dickens, and Walt Whitman’s writings about Long Island and the North Shore,” Ms. O’Neill said. “So you’re going to have experienced actors performing and reading these selected Christmas stories, and we’re going to have a live violinist.”
Guests attending either free event are encouraged to donate a children’s toy to CAST’s annual toy drive, which provides holiday gifts for the organization’s clients.