From Polka to Tahitian Dance at Music Beyond Borders 2016

Music Beyond BordersYou don’t have to buy a plane ticket to enjoy music and dance from around the world. It’s all coming to the Morristown Green (and it’s all free)!

Initiated in 2010, this series of free outdoor world music/dance performances, reflects a collaboration between Morris Arts and Mayo Performing Arts Center, with the rainsite graciously provided by Morristown United Methodist Church (50 Park Place on the Green).

“We hope that people will enjoy our wonderful free lunchtime outdoor concerts that celebrate the rich cultural diversity of the area,” said Allison Larena, President and CEO of the Mayo Performing Arts Center. Tom Werder, Executive Director of Morris Arts, adds, “It’s exciting to collaborate with the Mayo Center on this special series and to literally bring the world to the center of Morristown.”

Now in its seventh season, Music Beyond Borders continues to tap into the cultural riches from multiple continents and, this year, will present the following:





June 28, 2016: Smitty’s Polka Band – aka the Ziggy-Zaggy Band

Pending thunderstorms did not deter 241 intrepid souls (among them many families with young children) who came to the Morristown Green to enjoy  and dance to the exciting music of Smitty’s Polka Band’s successor, the Ziggy Zaggy Band. Although Smitty has very recently retired, younger performers from his band (including Papa Bavarian) have taken up the mantle and expanded the repertoire to include such treats as the Beatles’ “She Loves Me” (in German), and other rock and pop favorites.

Check out the photos and video of the performance HERE on

PHOTOS from June 28th, 2016 performance on the Green:


Click HERE for a glimpse of the polka classic, Roll Out the Barrel and HERE  to see parents and children trying out their polka skills.

Who could resist The Chicken Dance or hearing the Beatles’ She Loves Me  sung in German?!

Click HERE to see all the kids dancing and HERE to catch a little of the band’s rendition of the favorite, Edelweiss (from The Sound of Music).

A little background on the original band:
Smitty’s Polka Band was founded around 1967 in Elgin, Illinois, and relaunched in NYC in 2014 with the mission of making the best Oktoberfest Beer Music here in the States. Since the relaunch, Smitty’s Polka Band has entertained countless party goers and has been featured multiple times on the Circle Line Bear Mountain Cruise as well as at the headquarters of Unilever and financial giant Mastercard.  Smitty’s was also the featured entertainment at the Mercedes Benz USA company Oktoberfest in 2013.  In addition to drums and brass, the trio includes a VH1 “featured artist,” namely the accordionist/lead singer, widely known as Papa Bavarian. Consistently ranked as the most booked accordion player in the United States, Papa Bavarian has performed at Derek Jeter’s Retirement Party, hosted by the Ronald McDonald House, among other noteworthy events. Be sure to come with your dancing shoes and be ready to polka around the Green!


July 12, 2016: Indian Ragas and Rhythms, with Shivalik Ghoshal on Tabla and Vocalist/Harmonium player Andrew Shantz

The weather was glorious – sunny and low humidity – and the crowds swelled to 346 to enjoy the intricate, meditative singing and tabla/harmonium accompaniment by this talented duo. Their concentration was intense – despite the noisy building construction and five ambulances whose blaring sirens intruded on the serenity of the Green. All that said, the audience was most enthusiastic and appreciative.

Chick HERE to see the video and photo coverage on

PHOTOS from the performance:

VIDEOS from the performance:

CLick HERE  to hear the meditative opening and then HERE to hear the buildup through rapid fire, intricate “unfolding” of the raga line.

Cllick HERE  and  HERE for  closeups of the complex drumming techniques of Shivalik Ghoshal on tabla and the singing/harmonium playing by Andrew Shantz.

And click HERE for a sampler from their final number.

The Assistant Director of Iselin’s Manjari School of Performing Arts as well as a tabla teacher, Shivalik Ghoshal performed all of the tabla drumming for the soundtrack of Academy Award-winning documentary Born into Brothels (2004) as well as at Lincoln Center with santoor maestro Sri Satnaam Singh. He has accompanied many maestros including Pandit Manilal Nag, Smt Girija Devi, Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Phalguni Mitra, and Ustad Ali Ahmed Hussain and numerous visiting Indian artists. The recipient of grants from New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Namashkar Foundation (CT), and Asian Arts Initiative (PA), Shivalik also received a citation from the New Jersey state legislature. He is currently working with Mary Zimmerman and Doug Peck on re-orchestrating the jazz/classical Indian-based music of The Jungle Book for productions at the Goodman Theatre and Huntington Theatre Company in Chicago. He is a student of tabla maestro Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri and comes from a renowned musical family.

Andrew Shantz is a keyboardist, vocalist, composer, producer and educator with a foundation in jazz and a penchant for musical exploration. Since 2008, he has been immersed in the world of Hindustani-North Indian – classical music as a vocalist and harmonium player with studies in Kolkata (Calcutta), India under Smt. (Shrimati) Madhumita Saha and in New York under Pandit Sanjoy Banerjee along with special guidance from tabla maestro Pandit Samar Saha. In 2015, he won a scholarship to further his vocal studies with Pandit Sanjoy Banerjee from the Tapati Basu Roy Charitable Trust. In 2012, Andrew founded Vanguard Music Studio with partners Anna Evangelista and Attila Mozsolits, offering musical instruction in private lessons, group classes and ensembles and in special workshops and performances.

Both Shivalik and Andrew participate in the Brooklyn Raga Massive (BRM), a cooperative alliance of  Indian classical musicians in the Brooklyn, NYC area. Managed by the artists, the Massive is a platform for all lovers of Raga music, (listeners and practitioners), to network, present concerts, lecture demonstrations, festivals, panel discussions and provide educational outreach to all ages. Breaking conventional formalities, the Massive presents top-notch Indian Classical and Raga-inspired musicians, in all their diversity, hosts local events, and weekly Raga Music Jam Sessions in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.


July 26, 2016: Mexico Beyond Mariachi

Broiling hot weather didn’t deter 242 hardy souls and the wonderful professional performers of Mexico Beyond Mariachi who did a splendid job sharing songs, dances and instruments along with the history of Mexican culture from ancient times until the present.

PHOTOS from their performance:


Cllick HERE to see some of the unique instruments, hear songs and traditional dances from Mexico’s rich cultural history.

For some additional songs and dances performed by this wonderful ensemble, click HERE and HERE

Described as an “exuberant feast for the senses,” Mexico Beyond Mariachi explores the long history of the diverse regions of Mexico, the rituals, myths, and celebrations with colorful costumes, authentic instruments, and lively music and dance. Evoking the variety and color of an outdoor Mexican mercado, or market, the group performs on drums, flutes, conch shells and shares dances of the pre-Hispanic through the modern eras. Their fascinating fusion of rhythms and harmonies – with roots extending to Spain and Africa – takes the audience from the time of the Aztecs to the present day. With ten years of experience and passion, Mexico beyond Mariachi has performed in 10 states, 300 venues, and reached over one million people across the world! Highlights from their 2015 calendar include 30 performances at the New York Botanical Garden’s Rose Hall for the blockbuster Frida Kahlo Exhibit in addition to performances in schools throughout five states. This special group of professional performers  shares their love for Mexican art and expression in their fascinating and enlightening performance.


August 9, 2016: Lei Pasifika – Tahitian and Hawaiian dance from the Pacific Islands

With temperatures in the 80s and low humidity, it was a perfect day to get a taste of Tahiti and  Hawaii. Over 405 people joined dancers Tamara Bejar and Christa Yamasuki on the Green as they showcased the intricacies of various Tahitian and Hawaiian dances. Their colorful costumes and unique instruments added to the visual delights and they invited the audiences – men, women and children – to try out various motions and learn their meaning and significance within the Polynesian culture.

During the performance, a large branch fell from one of the trees on the Green…probably weakened by recent severe storms. Click HERE to read about that in – with abundant photos by Kevin Coughlin and Bill Lescohier.

Here are additional PHOTOS from Lei Pasifika’s performance (and hula lessons!):

VIDEOS from their Aug. 9, 2016 performance:

Click HERE  to see dancing with traditional Hawaiian bamboo rhythm sticks and HERE to see the dancers performing with the colorful, feathered Uli Uli gourds.

For a little taste of the dancers’ hula lesson , click HERE and,to see Crista Yamasuki impressive hip work as she dances with some of the “warrior”  men-dancers (including Luis Martinez of Morris Arts’ board), click HERE.

And, click HERE  for the final number, watch these two accomplished dancers (Tamara Bejar and Crista Yamasuki) demonstrate their art.

Lei Pasifika is a performance group focused on the music and dances of the Pacific Islands, mainly Tahiti and Hawaii. Sharing and cultivating the exotic cultures of Polynesia, their performances embody the spirits of these islands, taking a magical voyage in time, places, and legends. Through performances, dance classes, and costume workshops, they share and maintain the culture and lifestyle that is so dear to them.

Founder and director of Lei Pasifika, Makalina Gallagher was born and raised in and around the Pacific Islands, living in the Marianas, Caroline, and Hawaiian islands most of her life. A graduate of Fordham University with a B.A. in Theatre and Drama, she has studied ballet, jazz, modern and tap in New York City.  With the Tiny Bubble Band and her Hawaiian Express Dancers, she has performed on Channel 13 WNET PBS, NYC Telethon, FOX5 Good Day New York, and at Bette Midler’s 4th Annual Hulaween Ball.  She has also performed at a benefit for the New York Restoration Project, on the Food Network with Donna Hanover (featuring Roy Yamaguchi of Roy’s Restaurant) and with Gordon Elliot’s Doorknock Diners, on FOX 5 Good Day New York with Mike Woods, with Don Ho, as well as on WB11’s Morning Show.  Her dancers and the Tiny Bubble Band were featured on MTV’s Beach House to promote the movie “American Wedding,” and were also seen in Times Square promoting FOX 5’s new show North Shore, as well as at the Flea Theatre benefit.  She is the organizer of the NYC Ukulele MeetUp group and teaches Hula at Lotus Music & Dance. With her students and dancers at the CAPA (Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans) Festival, she has participated in celebrating Asia Pacific Heritage Month as well as in former Mayor Bloomberg’s Asian Pacific Heritage event and various Asian Heritage happenings in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Gallagher has been involved with Lei Pasifika since its inception.