Dancing On Sand: Beach Sessions Returns

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 There’s more happening at the beach than sand, surf and sunbathing.

Beach Sessions Dance Series is ready to leap into its second season.

Professional performances will take place on the sand at Beach 86th Street. Saturday, August 20, will feature Lauri Berg and her troupe and also the Boomerang dance company.  On Saturday, August 27, Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener and Netta Yerushalmy will perform.  Shows start at 6:30 p.m. on both dates. All performances are free.

Founder and director Sasha Okshteyn can’t wait, especially after last year’s success. “The first season was incredible! I was overwhelmed with how much support I received from the community.

“I funded Beach Sessions last summer through Kickstarter. Because of its success I was able to secure grants this year to continue the program. This summer I'm also thrilled to be expanding my relationships with community partners such as Surfrider again, Rockaway Brewery + Co, Rockaway Rising, Rockaway Artists Alliance, and Rockaway Retreat House.”

This year Rockaway Brewery + Co is also sponsoring the Surfrider Beach Clean-Ups. After each performance each person who helps clean up the beach will receive a ticket to grab a free drink at their new bar at 415 Beach 72nd Street.

As for her own involvement in the arts, Sasha says “I couldn't escape it!”

Her father, Shimon, is a working visual artist. Her mother, Tatyana, has been running a gallery and non-profit in Brooklyn called Black and White Gallery/Project Space since 2002. 

“I have been in the visual art and dance worlds since I was born. It was inevitable that I would follow in their footsteps!”  Okshteyn studied both dance and art from an early age and holds a Master’s Degree in Arts Administration from NYU.

Now co-curator of the successful Black and White Gallery/Project Space, she has also been working in various arts and dance organizations throughout New York City.

Where did the idea for Beach sessions come from?

“I was inspired to do Beach Sessions after I had been living here for a year and became really inspired by the creative community living here and the positive energy of our surrounding environment. In the summertime, at other parks in the city like at Bryant Park, Hudson River Park, Battery Park, there are annual free outdoor dance festivals - so I thought why not bring a dance festival to Rockaway Park! We have the most beautiful beach in the whole city!”

Sasha acknowledged she got some welcome help. “This summer because of generous support from the Queens Council on the Arts and Partnership in Parks Foundation, I have been able to pay the participating dance companies.  I'm also excited about the stage. I have been able to secure a weather-proof/beach-friendly stage.”

Any thoughts on Beach Sessions 2017?  “I'm already starting to plan for it. If anyone would like to get involved and become a partner, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!

“Additionally I would like to expand the environmental programming of Beach Sessions and join the larger conversation on how art and environment can affect each other, in the context of the Rockaways. There's a lot of work to be done here on the Peninsula and I believe I can help by bringing dance here.”

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