Free This Week


by Alyssa Grossman, 01/28/2014

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There's always something plenty exciting to do and see around the five boroughs that doesn't cost a dime. See our weekly picks below, and visit our calendar and deals section for more free events.

January 29–February 4

Wednesday, January 29
The Dance Historian Is In: With David Vaughan
Where: New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
When: 1–2:30pm
David Vaughan, former archivist for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, is known around the performance world locally and internationally. Today he’ll be at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts to present a screening of Jardin aux Lilas and Dark Elegies from the late American Ballet Theatre choreographer Antony Tudor, who came to that troupe in its premier season to reproduce these two shows. The screening will highlight performances from the American Ballet Theatre and Vaughan's own writing. The event will be held in the screening room, on the third floor of the library. Seating is available beginning at 12:30pm.  

Thursday, January 30
Musicians of the Philharmonic in Concert and Conversation
Where: David Rubenstein Atrium
When: 7:30pm
Go behind the scenes of the famed New York Philharmonic during a special night at Lincoln Center. Jeff Spurgeon, anchor for WQXR, the country's first station to specialize in classical music, will introduce audience members to several members of the orchestra, among them clarinetist Mark Nuccio, concertmaster Sheryl Staples, assistant concertmaster Michelle Kim, viola player Cynthia Phelps and cellist Carter Brey. In addition to discussing their music, the musicians will treat listeners to performances of a string quartet and clarinet quintet. Entrance is first-come, first-served, so arrive early if you want to guarantee a seat.  

Friday, January 31
15th New Year Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival
Where: Sara D. Roosevelt Park
When: 11am
Just days before the Lunar New Year Parade and Festival, Chinatown's biggest event of the year, organizers will hold a firecracker ceremony and cultural festival in Sara D. Roosevelt Park. The colorful celebration is meant to frighten evil spirits, with thousands of vibrant firecrackers filling the downtown neighborhood. The display will set off a day of lion dancers parading through the streets, assorted performers and cultural activities, vendors selling traditional fare and more.  

Saturday, February 1
Target First Saturday
Where: Brooklyn Museum
When: 5–11pm
Beat the cold-weather blues by bundling up and heading to the Brooklyn Museum for an evening of complimentary entertainment to kick off Black History Month. The packed schedule includes R&B, hip-hop, reggae and Creole-infused musical performances, a show by Urban Dance Collective and a screening of More Than a Month, a documentary that follows the filmmaker Shukree Hassan Tilghman's cross-country journey to find out what Black History month means. Also on tap is an art project, a curator talk focused on African-American artists and a book-club session.  

Sunday, February 2
Classical Interludes: Escher String Quartet
Where: Brooklyn Public Library, Central Library
When: 4pm
Libraries tend to be quiet places for reading and working. But every once in a while, things take a musical turn. Helping steer that today is the Escher String Quartet; the ensemble has performed throughout New York City and around the world. Not long after making their debut, they were asked to be the resident quartet at summer festivals for Pinchas Zukerman and Itzhak Perlman and were named 2010–2012 BBC New Generation Artists. They'll perform works by Mozart and Dvorak at the Brooklyn Public Library during this free afternoon performance. For more information, visit

Monday, February 3
Mandala: Locus of Thought
Where: Tibet House
When: 11am–6pm
The latest exhibition to debut at Tibet House—a Chelsea gallery dedicated to Tibetan culture and art—explores the meaning behind one of the core visuals of meditation: the mandala, a Hindu and Buddhist symbol of the universe. Mandala: Locus of Thought features the projects of 15 artists from New York City who play with geometric shapes, colors and architecture to create a greater understanding of the mandala's significance as both a metaphysical and physical object. One of the exhibition's main features is Flow Blue, a drawing series created by artist Arlene Shechet that incorporates images of Buddhist monuments, or "stupas," to put the mandala's meaning into context. Locus of Thought will also highlight the filmmaking work of Prithl Gowda, who explores the mandala's connections to myths in Hinduism. For more information, visit

Tuesday, February 4
Art in the Garden: Get the Picture?
Where: Queens Botanical Garden
When: 8am–4pm
While flowers and plants can easily be considered their own form of art, the Queens Botanical Garden also features art of the man-made variety with its Art in the Garden gallery shows. Debuting today is Get the Picture?, the work of local artist Alan Richards, whose background is in studying hearing and balance as an audiologist rather than attending art school. Richards uses photo manipulation, melding together different visuals to create whimsical composites. His entertaining approach may not appeal to all views (as Richards himself admits) but is nevertheless a thoughtful survey of his surroundings. For more information, visit

related venues/(7)

  1. 1
    New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
    111 Amsterdam Ave
    Manhattan – Upper West Side
  2. 2
    David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center
    Broadway at 62nd St.
    Manhattan – Upper West Side
    NY 10023
  3. 3
    Sara D. Roosevelt Park
    East Houston Street to Canal Street (bet. Forsyth and Chrystie Sts.)
    Manhattan – Lower East Side
    NY 10002
  1. 4
    Brooklyn Museum
    200 Eastern Parkway
    Brooklyn – Prospect Heights
    NY 11238
  2. 5
    Brooklyn Public Library
    Grand Army Plaza at Flatbush Ave
    Brooklyn – Park Slope
    NY 11238
  3. 6
    Tibet House
    22 W. 15th St.
    Manhattan – Chelsea
    NY 10011
  1. 7
    Queens Botanical Garden
    43-50 Main St.
    Queens – Flushing
    NY 11355

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