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Locals | Tai Chi in the Park

Jeanette Chi does Tai Chi in the ParkJeanette Chi in Tompkins Square ParkClaire Glass

In a particularly secluded part of Tompkins Square Park — on 10th Street between Avenues A and B — Jeanette Chi, 53, a nurse at an area hospital, practices an ancient form of Tai Chi, to channel her Chinese heritage and find a personal sanctuary within the East Village.


What’s this form of Martial Arts called?


This is Chen Tai Chi Quan. It’s supposed to be the oldest style of Tai Chi, the one off of which all of the other styles are based. It’s practiced in the Chen Village in Henan.

A General named Chen Wang Ting, decided to study medical Qigong, which concentrates on breathing exercises. His objective in the new form was to develop a form of movement that would combine meditative awareness with combat technique. So, the practitioner can develop wisdom and fight.


How did you become interested in this particular form?


I started many years ago with a teacher in California in 1982. From there I studied with another teacher and now found another teacher here named Yu Guo Shun who I feel have taught the most.

I thought it was really beautiful and wanted to learn something traditional that was also applicable to self-defense. Read more…

Locals | Helen Stratford

Helen Stratford, East Village poet and street performerAndre Tartar

On a recent Monday afternoon, the sounds of Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel lilt across Tompkins Square Park. Helen Stratford, 54, an East Village poet and composer, sits with her little white accordion and talks to The Local about the 10 years, and more, she has been performing on the streets.

Where do you perform?

At different points in the East Village — once, if not twice, a day. I like Tompkins Square because it’s near where I live. Sometimes I’ll play in front of St. Marks Church. It’s sort of whimsical.

I used to play in the subway — Astor Place, Eighth and Broadway — but I had to stop performing. Somebody walks by with their Whole Foods bag and their designer dog and their $400 pair of boots and they can’t even give me a quarter? It hurts my feelings.

Do you ever play for money anymore?

I do, I do. But nobody becomes an accordion player because it’s where the money is. If you want to make money, you write poetry. Poetry! That’s where the money’s at. Oh man!

How much can you make performing?

Read more…