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Coming from Afar, Greeting from Afar
By Peggy Chen / Sunday, June 11th, 2006 / New York Culture Center

Rehearsal participants, some who traveled 3 hours or more, crowded in front of the elevators after the morning meeting ended at the New York Culture Center. They were about to head into their respective performance groups and committees but Salvador Pereda, 11, from Connecticut didn't know where to go. It was his first rehearsal for hip-hop dance. I accompanied him to the Lower Lobby, then met up with the Documentary Committee.

We spoke about what each of the teams -- film, photography, newsletter, and photo book - was working on and split up to cover our assignments. I returned to the Lower Lobby with a photographer and my partner for the day, Maria Elena Giuliani.

Salvador had met up with his friend Andres Ortega, 11, and made new friends with the break dancers. Together, they practiced pop-rock and up-rock techniques. Andres said that he had to wake up early to come, but that he was having fun. A few feet away, hip-hop dancers moved in unison as they bent and moved their arms backwards in a way reminiscent of Keanu Reeves' famous bullet-dodging scene in "The Matrix."

Back on the second floor Youth Band split into groups by instrument to practice their song. Guitarist Kenji Greenberg, 19, of Connecticut, described it as a "rock/disco version of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony," which many people recognize by its famous phrase 'da-da-da-DUMM.'

One floor above the band, Richie Postigo of Queens spun records to a captivated DJ Battle group. Among them was Pashaia Monroe, 14, who was the first and only young woman in the DJ Battle group a few weeks ago. (More young women have joined the group since). Pashaia is from Mt. Vernon, NY and travels hour-and-a-half each way to rehearsals, which she said are "fun. I like that we get to mix different music."

Down the hall, Connecticut member Jeffrey Slobodien, 19, wrote rap lyrics with the MC Battle Group. He comes to the rehearsals with his mother and sister. He said that he is creating good causes by participating in this festival, "stuff' is starting to come out of my life," referring to the obstacles and negativity that naturally arise when one correctly practices Nichiren Buddhism (see "The Three Obstacles and Four Devils")

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Journal 1 (April 23)
Journal 2 (May 14)
Journal 3 (May 21)
Journal 4 (June 11)
Journal 5 (June 18)
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