“From coastal resiliency and sustainable green practices to the preservation of affordable housing, world-class public art, and vibrant, year-round programming in award-winning public spaces, Battery Park City leads the way in many of the measures that makes cities livable."

Raju Mann

President & CEO
  • 08/15
  • Art & Culture
  • BPC People
  • Community


Title: U.S. Program Manager,
Battery Dance
Favorite BPC Spot:
Wagner Park

Battery Dance was founded in 1976 by Jonathan Hollander to bring dance to downtown Manhattan and integrate the arts into people’s everyday lives. It began by performing in open plazas and public places throughout lower Manhattan, giving free concerts in order to raise awareness for the Company and its work.

In 1982 the Company produced the first Downtown Dance Festival, the forerunner of today’s Battery Dance Festival, with the goal of bringing culture together and reflecting the great diversity of New York City through dance. The festival eventually settled in Historic Battery Park.

After Hurricane Sandy the festival found its new home in “the jewel that is Wagner Park” beginning in 2014, and changed its name to the Battery Dance Festival to match. With this year’s 36th annual event, Battery Dance Festival is now the longest running free public dance festival in New York City.

Natalia Mesa, Battery Dance’s U.S. Program Manager, is responsible for making it happen. Born in Colombia, where she started dancing at age 12, Natalia moved to the United States in 2008. She began at the Alvin Alley America Dance Theater and continued dancing in both New York and Washington, D.C. doing ballet, modern, and contemporary dance.

With her growing interest in the management side of the dance business, Natalia earned a master’s degree in Performing Arts Administration at New York University, and in 2014 joined Battery Dance as the Program Coordinator for Educational Programs.

She is now in her second year as U.S. Program Manager for the company, where one of her primary responsibilities is coordinating the Battery Dance Festival, one of the downtown community’s premier annual events. Natalia’s role also allows her to bring dance to New York City public school students, and she hopes in the future to integrate these school programs into the Battery Dance Festival by featuring some of the amazing dances these students create.

Now in its fourth year in Wagner Park, the 2017 Battery Park Dance Festival starts Sunday, August 13, and continues until Saturday, August 19, with six outdoor performances and one indoor performance (at Pace University’s Schimmel Center).

Last year’s festival  drew approximately 12,000 people over the course of its run, more than double the number in previous years, and Natalia and team are hoping for the same great turnout in 2017. There are 31 dance companies performing this year from as far abroad as Belgium, Botswana, the Dominican Republic, Spain, and Sri Lanka.

An international scope requires a world-class stage, and to Natalia’s mind there’s no better setting than Battery Park City: “Once the festival starts and we have that beautiful backdrop with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, time just stops and you finally see the product of all the work that you have done and how the city is receiving that. So it’s very gratifying to see it every time, every year growing, since it’s been in Wagner Park.”

Dance – With a Soul

In keeping with its motto, Artistic Excellence, Social Relevance, Battery Dance is also in its 9th year of a partnership with the Erasing Boarders Festival of Indian Dance, which features artists “practicing, or inspired by, dance from the Indian subcontinent.” This special performance is scheduled for Tuesday, August 15.

Last year, the company also launched the Adel Euro Campaign for Dancers Seeking Refuge, opening the festival with a tribute to Adel Euro, one of the company’s students killed tragically by a bombing in Iraq. To sustain his legacy – and combat racism and Islamophobia – this year the festival will open with a performance from the first fellow from this campaign, Hussein Smko, who will perform a dance and spoken word poem in collaboration with Iraqi Journalist Riyadh Mohammed in tribute to Adel.

More than four decades since its founding, Battery Dance continues its pursuit of artistic excellence and the availability of the Arts to everyone. And it is as a backdrop for this noble pursuit that Battery Dance has found a home here in Battery Park City.

Concludes Natalia: “Just walking by the water or just passing through the park, it’s like being in the city but also away from the city. It’s a place where you can actually acknowledge that you are in New York. I feel like sometimes when you are in the middle of Manhattan you can’t appreciate where you are. Battery Park City lets you know that you are in the best city in the world with all the wonderful activities that happen around the park – and of course the views are fabulous!”

Read more about the 2017 Battery Dance Festival in The New York Times.

BATTERY DANCE FESTIVALAugust 13 through 18, 2017
7:00pm – 9:00pm
Wagner Park
Established by Battery Dance in 1982 as the Downtown Dance Festival, today the Battery Dance Festival (BDF) is New York City’s longest-running free public dance festival. Audiences are traditionally drawn from the large downtown working population and residents, families, tourists, senior citizens and dance fans from the greater NYC metropolitan area. Each year, the Festival draws a combined audience of over 12,000 people.

The Battery Dance Festival provides a unique opportunity for outstanding dancers and choreographers to present original works of high artistic merit in a free public forum. BDF revels in the panoply of dance that our city offers, with strong emphasis on the inclusion of diverse dance styles and an international roster of performers. American choreographers such as Michelle Dorrance, Paul Taylor, Mary Anthony, Elizabeth Streb and Darrell Moultrie have all presented their works alongside pre-eminent companies from Asia, Europe, South America, Africa and the Caribbean.
This event is free. For additional information, click here

Thursdays in August
August 3rd through August 24th
5:30 pm

Belvedere Plaza by North Cove

WALTZ August 17
Twirl in 3/4 time with the Hudson Riveras your backdrop as the Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra strings serenade you with a selection of all-time waltz favorites.
This concert is co-sponsored by Goldman Sachs.

The West Village Quartet plays pieces by renowned tango composerAstor Piazzolla, along with classics by Haydn, Mozart and more.Listen and dance beneath the swaying leaves of Belvedere Plaza.

Wednesdays through August
Brookfield Place Terrace
Kick back and relax on the Terrace every Wednesday all summer long! With outdoor games, live music, film screenings, and more, Brookfield Place is where you’ll want to unwind this season. Click here for more information about artists, activities, and more.
Sundays until September 24th
Waterfront Plaza
End your week on a high note with water views, cold drinks, and summer bites. Free
BPNY Tennis Open
August 27th – September 1st
Brookfield Place
Don’t miss the 2nd Annual BPNY Tennis Open!
Join us on the Waterfront Plaza August 27-September 1 and compete to win the Brookfield Place Tennis Open. Free
Guided Tours of the Core Exhibition
Every Tuesday at 3PMTake a guided tour of the core Exhibition. This drop-in tour is free with Museum admission. The meeting point is in the Museum’s Anne & Bernard Spitzer Grand Foyer. All three floors of the Core Exhibition are covered: Jewish Life a Century Ago: The War Against the Jews: and Jewish Renewal. 
Lox After Hours Chef’s Table
August 23rd
Inspired by his travels around the world, Chef David Teyf of Lox at Café Bergson curates a fish forward tasting menu of 18 courses. Join the community table at the Museum for an exclusive experience of the first kosher Cherf’s Table of its kind, followed by a toast on the terrace overlooking Andy Goldsworthy’s Garden of Stones. The event begins at 7pm, seating is at 7:30pm.

Price ($180) is per person all-inclusive, excluding tax. Seating is limited to 18 people. Dress is summer chic.

The Envy of the World, Joshua Bennett
August 15th-August 20th
12 to 5PM
Prismatic Park at Madison Square Park
The Envy of the World is a series of collaboration and conversations focused on the theme of black male kinship. It is centrally concerned with how black men and boys understand themselves in relationship not only to one another, but to the myriad forms of institutional violence that circumscribe their being and becoming.

Through a combination of one-on-one interviews, games, workshops and performances, the project seeks to enact a vision of black sociality as both a means of survival and a scene of indomitable joy, an ongoing occasion to celebrate, in Lucille Clifton’s terms, what the project’s participants have made into a kind of life. In this sense and others, The Envy of the World is a rehearsal for a world that is not yet here, an order of things that is yet to com.

Further, the project is intended to publically assert the beauty and power of black gathering in a geographical context where such gathering continues to be criminalized at every turn, indeed, where the very modes of assembly I intend to re-create are routinely policed by agents of the State.

Free and open to the public

Sustainable Skyscrapers
Saturday August 19th
Did you know that Battery Park City is a model green community? Explore the possibilities for greening New York City! Kids will work together to investigate how to make our cities healthy and sustainable. Children will model green buildings and plan a green city, giving them a hands-on understanding of sustainable design. Ages 5+. RSVP required.
Skyscraper Seminars: Leslie Robertson Book Talk
Thursday September 7
In The Structure of Design, Leslie Earl Robertson offers a personal and accessible chronicle of the partnerships and problem solving that forged so may classics of modern architecture. He recounts his famous collaborations with architects, including Minoru Yamasaki, Philip Johnson, and I. M. Pei, among many others, and his delight in working with leading sculptors such as Richard Serra and Beverly Pepper. Join us for an illustrated talk that combines personal reflections and professional insights on “An Engineer’s Extraordinary Life in Architecture.”
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