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Black Cultural Festival Visits The Palace In Stamford This Weekend

Sherry Winston, a Bethel resident and Grammy-nominated flutist, will perform Friday at The Palace in Stamford.
Sherry Winston, a Bethel resident and Grammy-nominated flutist, will perform Friday at The Palace in Stamford. Photo Credit: Contributed

STAMFORD, Conn. -- The Palace Theatre in Stamford and local community groups will produce a series of events this weekend to celebrate Black History Month.

The 2016 Black Cultural FEST includes Grammy-nominated Flutist Sherry Winston on Friday, a Family Black History Concert on Saturday at 3 p.m., a Step Show with teams from distinguished Greek organizations on Saturday night at 7 p.m. and a student workshop with the Dance Theatre of Harlem on Sunday afternoon. The Black Cultural FEST is sponsored by the CHET 529 Savings Program and Pitney Bowes.

The 100 Black Men of Stamford helped line up the Step Show participants. The organization is a non-profit group committed to improving the educational and economic conditions for African Americans and others in need, with a particular focus on the development of youth.

Curtis Battles, President and Chairman of the Board of the organization, said six teams from as far away as Virginia, New York and Connecticut will perform at Saturday’s show.

“Step Shows celebrate a part of Black culture and they gained popularity as part of the practices of predominantly African American fraternities and sororities,’’ Battles said. “It’s a coordinated performance, and the precision and showmanship is really appealing.”

Battles said Step Show teams typically have been six and 12 members. Each group performs for about 12-15 minutes, Battles said. Step Shows blend music, stepping, movement and rhythm.

Many step show organizations and competitions promote their cultural history, but also focus on making a difference in their communities.

“We thought how can we help expand the programming for The Palace so that it’s inclusive for all,’’ Battles said. “This is the first event we’ve done at The Palace, though the 100 Black Men have events that we put on throughout the year."

The weekend-long festival is a new collaboration between The Palace and 100 Black Men of Stamford. Battles said Black History Month events had occurred in Stamford previously, but over the past 10 years they had dwindled and become scattered throughout the month. The new initiative brings several events together under one roof for the weekend.

“We thought how can we help expand the programming for The Palace so that it’s inclusive for all,’’ Battles said. “This is the first one, but we’re going to be putting on events throughout the year.

Winston, a resident of Bethel, has released six CDs and performed at Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center and Kennedy Center. She has also performed for Presidents Clinton and George H.W. Bush.

“We’re very honored to be a part of this,’’ Battles said. “We think this is a stepping stone to more programming throughout the year. It engages a broad range and shows other art forms The Palace has to offer. This is nice to bring in as a new addition.

Tickets are $30 or less for all activities. More information and tickets are available at PalaceStamford.org or by contacting the Box Office at (203) 325-4466.

The Stamford Public Schools 2016 Student Black History Month Exhibition will be also on display in The Palace’s Sackler Gallery until March 27. To learn more, visit: https://tr.im/VteGC.

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