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Dancing Joy in River Journal

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“Art Under the Stars” Supports Life-Saving Project

River Journal — August 26, 2020

Outdoor Premiere of Dancing Joy Raises Funds for The Cookstove Project

Local residents are creating a COVID-safe Outdoor Film Screening to raise donations for a project that builds clean cookstoves in rural Uganda and Nepal. On Friday, Sept. 25, from 6 p.m. on, an outdoor event at Briarcliff Manor’s Law Park will allow families to view a newly released film, Dancing Joy, in the fresh air while maintaining good socially-distanced practices.

“For their donation, people can reserve a blanket-sized space, which is pre-set to be 6 feet from others,” explains Mary Seacor, the Ossining resident who is heading up this event. “We’re requiring masks, and we’ll make sure that any concession items are wrapped or in containers and follow all health protocols.”

The event supports The Cookstove Project, which is a partner of the Briarcliff Manor Rotary, as well as several local faith communities, schools and helping organizations. Founded by Rebecca Sommer, former Briarcliff Manor resident, this project builds clean and efficient cookstoves in rural Uganda and Nepal using locally available materials and training local people as the cookstove masters.

“In half the world’s households, smoke from indoor cookfires damages the health of women and children—the equivalent of inhaling 40 cigarettes a day,” explains Ms. Seacor. “Clean cookstoves enable the burning off of toxic fumes and channel smoke out of the home. Because they burn more efficiently, they reduce fuel use by 75%, and reduce deforestation in the surrounding areas.”

Nepali Dance

Partnering with The Cookstove Project are the makers of award-winning movie, Dancing Joy. “Like the symphony that inspired it—Beethoven’s 9th—our film celebrates the value of every human life, the beauty of each culture, and our common wish to live in joy,” says producer Kate Tsubata, who will attend the event. One of the featured dance groups, Minbuza (Japanese Folk Dance Institute of New York) will perform live, and the film’s director, Lan T. Lee, will emcee the evening’s proceedings. The amazing LYNN Academy of Irish Dance will also perform some of their gorgeous choreography, and there will be a silent auction, and some inspirational presentations as well.

Due to COVID, normal fundraising has been interrupted, so Cookstove Project volunteers have become creative in finding unique ways to share the stories and request support. Local resident Mark Johnson, an active Rotary International supporter, will share his experience in Uganda, seeing the villagers trample the mud to build the clean cookstoves. Hakan Ayanoglu has applied his IT expertise to create ways for people to donate electronically. Jeff Cadge has used his video production skills to create short videos that “show not tell” the CSP stories.

For those at special risk—or who live too far away to attend—they can donate and receive a private link to screen the film directly in their own homes. “We want to make sure that everyone has a chance to enjoy the film—and to support an amazing project,” explains Ms. Seacor.

Dancing Joy is a film that combines the powerful and uplifting music of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (with the beautiful choral message of joy and brotherhood of all mankind) with the authentic dance traditions of 21 cultures. Music, dance and scenic beauty are woven together in a seamless journey around the world that transports and uplifts. Suitable for all ages, the film has been selected for film festivals including the Lady Filmmakers festival and the Docs Without Borders film festival.

To donate and reserve your blanket space at the screening—or obtain a private link to hold your own screening in the safety of your living room—go to

“The COVID pandemic has reminded us of the things we have in common,” says Mary Seacor. “Just as Beethoven overcame his deafness to write this beautiful music, we can overcome the distances between us to experience beauty and to help others. We hope everyone will participate—in person or at home—and help change lives through clean cookstoves.”

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