Under the artistic direction of Baba Chuck Davis, the 35th anniversary of DanceAfrica features the largest gathering of dance companies in its history, with 15 in attendance and performing over two weekends at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), including many favorite performers and reunions of companies from the earliest DanceAfrica festivals during a special Opening Celebration on Sunday, May 20th, 2012.
DanceAfrica a Memorial Day weekend tradition (but has been extended this year from May 19th - 28th) is packed with dance, music, art, film, and community events — plus the popular DanceAfrica outdoor bazaar.
Also involved in this celebratory tradition are several BAMcafé Live and FilmAfrica events, the outdoor DanceAfrica Bazaar, and an iconic Artist Talk.
Founded by Davis in 1977, DanceAfrica is the nation’s largest festival dedicated to African dance and has become one of the most vibrant celebrations of its kind, uniting dancers worldwide to celebrate the cultural vitality of Africa and its diaspora.
In a departure from years past, DanceAfrica 2012 will feature a special pre-Memorial Day Opening Celebration on Sunday, May 20 at 3pm to commemorate DanceAfrica’s 35th anniversary which features these reunions of and performances by many of the companies from the earliest festivals. A traditional libation ceremony will take place on the steps of the BAM Peter Jay Sharp Building prior to the ceremony at approximately 2:30pm.
In addition, over Memorial Day weekend (May 25—28), DanceAfrica 2012 will present a different performance roster each evening.
DanceAfrica 2012 begins on Saturday, May 19th, with a pre-opening ceremony at 10am at Weeksville Heritage Center. This traditional ceremony, which includes dancing and music by local artists, is an integral part of DanceAfrica that honors elders who have passed on to the ancestral grounds. The event is free and open to the public.
The celebration will continue at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza (1368 Fulton St., Brooklyn) at 1pm with the annual community welcome for the visiting company featuring free performances by students from Restoration who have participated in the DanceAfrica Education program.
The week-long DanceAfrica celebration, though centered around the dance performances at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House (May 20, 25—28), also includes:
Additionally, recent recipients of the Samuel H. Scripps BAM Scholarship for post- secondary education will be presented with their awards on the Opera House stage during the May 20th Opening Celebration. Inspired by the spirit of DanceAfrica, BAM Trustee Richard Feldman launched the Samuel H. Scripps BAM Scholarship Fund in 2008, in memory of former BAM Trustee and arts patron Sam Scripps. The Scholarship exclusively benefits students who have participated in BAM’s arts education programs, including the DanceAfrica Education initiative.
Opening Celebration, Sun, May 20 at 3pm
A traditional libation ceremony on the steps of the Peter Jay Sharp Building precedes the Opening Celebration, at approximately 2:30pm
Fri, May 25 at 7:30pm
Adanfo Ensemble (Syracuse) Farafina Kan: The Sound of Africa (Washington, DC) United African Dance Troupe (Queens) BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble (Brooklyn)
Sat, May 26 at 2pm & 7:30pm
Adanfo Ensemble (Syracuse) Forces of Nature Dance Theatre (Manhattan) Oyu Oro Afro-Cuban Dance Company (Manhattan) BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble (Brooklyn)
Sun, May 27 at 3pm
Adanfo Ensemble (Syracuse) Illstyle Peace Productions (Philadelphia) Creative Outlet (Brooklyn) BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble (Brooklyn)
Mon, May 28 at 3pm
Adanfo Ensemble (Syracuse) Hamalali Wayunagu Garifuna (Bronx) Asase Yaa (Brooklyn) BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble (Brooklyn)
The Adanfo Ensemble is an ensemble of musicians and dancers with roots in Ghana, West Africa. Founder David Etse Nyadedzor was born and raised in Ghana where he performed with many local African groups. An experienced master drummer, he studied with the Folkloric Selamta traditional cultural group at the Center for National Culture in Accra, Ghana, where he mastered Ghanaian and other African drumming techniques as well as a repertoire of Ghanaian, Togolese, Nigerian, Guinean, Senegalese, Zimbabwean, and South African dances. The word "Adanfo" translates as "friends and family" and the ensemble has performed widely throughout the United States.
In 1964, the Chuck Davis Dance Company (CDDC) included a small group of dancers and drummers from a neighborhood youth summer program participating in a summer program at the Burger Junior High School Action Theatre in the South Bronx, and the Bernice Johnson Dance Studio. By 1968, CDDC, under the management of Bessie Pruitt, was a company-in-residence for the New York City Board of Education, reaching thousands of children through lecture-demonstration and mini-concerts. In 1977 the company was chosen to represent the US at FESTAC ’77, a pan-African cultural event held in Lagos, Nigeria. CDDC also served as official US Ambassadors of Goodwill, touring Italy, Yugoslavia, Norway and Greece in 1980. The company, which performed in many DanceAfrica festivals, disbanded in 1983.
The Arthur Hall Afro-American Dance Ensemble
was founded in Philadelphia in 1958. Over the next 30 years, the ensemble toured internationally to West Africa, the Caribbean, and Brazil, founded the storied Ile Ife Black Humanitarian Center and the Ile Ife Museum of African Culture in North Philadelphia, performed on national television broadcasts, and produced numerous full-length ballets. The company was dissolved in 1988 when founder Arthur Hall left Philadelphia for his native Memphis, Tennessee. Ensemble alumni have formed several performing groups and cultural organizations, and continued to perform for Arthur Hall until his death in 2000. In 2008, ensemble alumni regrouped to present a series of concerts and cultural celebrations to honor Hall.
The Charles Moore Dance Theatre (CMDT)
is one of the oldest nonprofit black arts organizations in Brooklyn. Founded in 1974 by Charles and Ella Thompson Moore to demonstrate the beauty and great variety of African, Caribbean, and African-American culture, the company proves that multiculturalism and traditional black American arts are inseparable.
The International Afrikan-American Ballet
was founded in 1975 by former members of Les Ballet Du Ladji Camara and modeled on the great national ballets of Guinea and Senegal. As artists who had worked and trained with Papa Ladji Camara prior to that company’s disbanding they did not want to lose the foundation of African folkloric music and dance. In 1977, IAAB was invited by Baba Chuck Davis to become a part of what became known as DanceAfrica, along with four other companies that helped to establish DanceAfrica as a landmark series. The company disbanded in the mid-1990s.
Oyu Oro Afro-Cuban Dance Company, founded by Danys "La Mora" Perez, is a company committed to the preservation of Afro-Cuban folklore, encouraging cross- cultural understanding of dance and music forms derived from African culture. The company’s traditional repertoire pays tribute to African lineages derived from the Yoruba, Congo, Carabali, Arará, and Dahomean cultures of West Africa and Haiti, while also celebrating Cuban heritage.
The United African Dance Troupe performs, entertains, and educates using dance, song, drums, and percussion from the continent of Africa. UADT’s dancers and musicians range from 7 to 70 years old, and bring joyful cultural expression to each performance.
Creative Outlet Dance Theatre of Brooklyn was founded in 1994 by Jamel Gaines, Lakai Worrell, and Kevin Joseph with a mission to provide a venue for artists to develop and perfect their craft through dance, theater, spoken word, film, and live music. Through its Arts in Education Program (AEP), Creative Outlet has worked with more than 1,000 students in 25 New York public schools, providing lecture demonstrations and special concerts. The company has performed in various festivals and venues around the world, including Germany, Italy, and Mexico.
An annual favorite and symbol of youth involvement in the preservation of African heritage, the BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble returns to the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House for its 16th consecutive year. Under the mentorship of Baba Chuck Davis, the gifted young dancers of Bedford Suyvesant Restoration Corporation celebrate both ancestral roots and the modern-day community. “Exuberant, disciplined young dancers from Bed-Stuy, the BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble are a group worth following,” praised The Village Voice.
Farafina Kan: The Sound of Africa shares the history and spirit of traditional West African drumming and dancing, blended with contemporary music, such as reggae, blues, jazz, and hip-hop, to reflect the richness of the African American experience.
Forces of Nature Dance Theatre is an African and contemporary modern dance company co-founded in 1981 under the choreographic direction of artistic director Abdel R. Salaam and executive artistic director Olabamidele Husbands. Informed by African and American traditions, the company delivers a visceral, thought-provoking blend of contemporary dance, traditional West African dance, ballet, house, hip-hop, and live music, oriented around ideas of environmental health, spirituality, and survival of life on Earth.
Illstyle & Peace Productions is a multicultural dance company based in Philadelphia. Founded in 2002 by Brandon “Peace” Albright and Forrest Webb, the company fuses the movement and spirit of old school hip-hop with various styles of dance to deliver an inspirational message of individual expression to worldwide audiences of all ages. The company has heralded as “fabulous” by The New York Times.
Founded in the Bronx in 1992, Hamalali Wayunagu Garifuna Fokloric & Modern Dance Company is devoted to sharing and teaching Garifuna culture though dance, music, poetry, and drama from the vast repertoire of Garifuna culture.
Formed in 2001, Asase Yaa is a group of young artists dedicated to exploring connections between African and African-American culture. Comprising musicians,
The Dinizulu Dancers, Dummers, and Singers was established in the early 1950s by Nana and Alice Dinizulu. Alice Dinizulu was a former student of and performer with Joseph Comadore, Ismay Andrews, and Asadata Dafora, among others. It was thanks to this background and through later research, study, and collaboration with artists in Africa that the present repertoire—which includes exciting dances from Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa—was developed. The company has performed widely nationally and internationally, introduced countless children to traditional African culture, and performed for heads of state including President Nelson Mandela of South Africa
dancers, and singers with training in various disciplines, the company also includes a griot committed to preserving African-American history through storytelling.
Dr. Charles “Chuck” Davis, artistic director and founding elder of DanceAfrica, is one of the foremost teachers and choreographers of traditional African dance in America. He has traveled extensively to Africa to study with leading artists. Davis founded the Chuck Davis Dance Company in New York in 1968 and the African American Dance Ensemble in Durham, NC, in 1983. He has been a panelist for several programs of the National Endowment for the Arts and is a recipient of the AARP Certificate of Excellence, the North Carolina Dance Alliance Award, the 1990 North Carolina Artist Award, and the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine. He has served on the board of the North Carolina Arts Council since 1991 and in 1992 he received the North Carolina Award in Fine Arts, the state’s highest honor. In 1996, Davis and the African American Dance Ensemble were awarded a $100,000 grant from the National Dance Residency Program, a three-year initiative launched in 1994 by the New York Foundation for the Arts and funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. In 1998 he received an honorary doctorate from Medgar Evers College; he has received honorary doctorates from several universities, all of which mean a great deal to him. Most recently, Chuck Davis and DanceAfrica were cited as one of “America’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures: The First 100” by the Dance Heritage Coalition.
About DanceAfrica Weeksville Heritage Center Opening Ceremony on Sat, May 19 at 10am The DanceAfrica libation ceremony, led by the Council of Elders, has been held annually at Weeksville Heritage Center. This traditional libation ceremony honors elders who have passed on to the ancestral ground and will include dancing and music by local artists. The event is free and open to the public. Weeksville Heritage Center is a historic site of great national significance. During the 19th century, the village of Weeksville was a vibrant and independent African American community. The contemporary center includes three historic structures and is scheduled for expansion in 2012 with the completion of the 19,000-square-foot Education and Cultural Arts Building. The Weeksville Heritage Center is located at 1698 Bergen Street in Brooklyn. (weeksvillesociety.org)
The celebration continues at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza (1368 Fulton Street, Brooklyn) at 1pm with the annual community welcome for the visiting company featuring free performances by students from Restoration who have participated in the DanceAfrica Education program.
About DanceAfrica Bazaar
Each year, the free outdoor DanceAfrica Bazaar has been a gathering place for diverse crowds from all five boroughs of New York and the tri-state area, attracting an estimated 30,000 people throughout the weekend. The DanceAfrica Bazaar includes nearly 300 local and international vendors, transforming the streets surrounding BAM into a global marketplace of African, Caribbean, and African American food, fashion, artifacts, jewelry, and crafts. The Village Voice has declared it "the boldest party in town" and The New York Times has called it "a colorful kickoff for the summer street festival season." The Bazaar features entertainment for families, including face painting and crafts at the Children’s Village.
The Bazaar takes place Saturday, May 26, 12–10pm and Sunday & Monday, May 27 & 28, 12–8pm on Ashland Place (between Fulton St & Hanson Pl) and in the GGMC & Impark parking lots. Admission is free and times are subject to change.
About DanceAfrica Workshops
Members of the visiting companies, along with Baba Chuck Davis, lead two dance workshops in the BAMcafé (30 Lafayette Ave). A family workshop, for children and adults, will be held on Sunday, May 27, 11am–12:15pm, followed by an adult workshop on Monday, May 28, 11am–12:30pm for people with intermediate to advanced dance experience. Family workshop fees are $10 for adults ($5 for ages 15 and under), and adult workshop fees are $12. Visit BAM.org or call 718.636.4130 x1 for details. Space is limited. Pre-registration and pre-payment is required.
About BAMcafé Live DanceAfrica 2012 programming
Fri, May 18 at 9pm
Brooklyn Arts Council Presents Half the Sky Festival: Jazz Women Fusing Forms Alsarah & The Nubatones from the Sudan perform an evocative mix of Middle Eastern and East African music; Moroccan-born Malika Zarra combines a breathtaking range of African and other traditions through songs in Berber, Moroccan Arabic, French, and English.
Fri, May 25 at 10pm
A renowned authority on Yoruba culture and religion, as well as a percussionist and composer, John Mason is helping to expand the improvisational vocabulary of spirituals, blues, rap, and more with the musical languages of West Africa. Mason and his band will perform an assortment of up-tempo acoustic numbers that bridge traditions and continents.
Sat, May 26 at 10pm Black Rock Coalition Orchestra Salute to Don Cornelius & Soul Train + Late-Night Dance Party The Black Rock Coalition Orchestra returns to BAM for a tribute to late Soul Train guru Don Cornelius, performing songs by the Whispers, Shalamar, Lakeside, Dynasty, Babyface, Midnight Star, Carrie Lucas, and other artists from the Solar (formerly Soul Train) Records catalog. A dance party follows, with DJ Idlemind spinning Soul Train classics well into the wee hours.
About FilmAfrica at BAMcinématek This year’s cinematic companion to the 35th annual DanceAfrica 2012 runs from May 25 to 28 and features films from Algeria, Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and special guests Akin Omotoso and Daniel Cattier. The series includes Lionel Rogosin’s recently re-released apartheid-era classic Come Back, Africa, Michel Ocelot’s Tales of the Night—a special children’s film screening in 3-D—and selections from the African Film Festival’s Traveling Series.
BAM Rose Cinemas (30 Lafayette Ave) Tickets: $12 per screening for adults; $9 for seniors 65 and over and children
under 12; $9 for students under 25 with valid ID (Monday–Thursday, except holidays); $7 BAM Cinema Club Members Tickets available by phone at 718.777.FILM or by visiting BAM.org
Fri, May 25 at 2, 6:50pm A Trip to Algiers (2010) Directed by Abdelkrim Bahloul, Algeria/France. A young woman loses everything during the war for Algeria’s independence in 1962. When a Frenchman who is leaving the country offers her and her children his former home, an unscrupulous government official tries to it away.
Fri, May 25 at 4:30, 9:15pm One Way, a Tuareg Journey (2010) Directed by Fabio Caramaschi, Italy/Niger. This inspirational documentary chronicles a separated family’s slow, fractured emigration from Niger to Italy and the adversity and opportunities they find there. With Lezare (2010) Directed by Zelalem Woldemariam Ezare, Ethiopia. This beautifully shot film tells the touching story of a homeless boy in a small village in Ethiopia.
Sat, May 26 at 2, 6:50pm* Man on Ground (2011) Directed by Akin Omotoso This bold and exacting portrayal of rising xenophobia in South Africa follows a young Nigerian living in the Johannesburg refugee tenements who disappears during an uprising of violent riots against immigrants. In the span of a single night, his brother, on a short visit from London, tries to elucidate the mystery. *Q&A with Omotoso
Sat, May 26 at 4:30, 9:30pm Come Back, Africa (1959) Directed by Lionel Rogosin Rogosin (On the Bowery) directs this chronicle of the life of Zachariah, a black South African living under the rule of the harsh apartheid government in 1959.
Sun, May 27 at 3, 9pm Kinshasa Symphony (2010) Directed by Claus Wischmann & Martin Baer, DRC/Germany Two-hundred musicians playing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in the Congo! This powerful film takes a fascinating look at the Congolese Symphony Orchestra to tell a larger story about the Congo and the power of music.
Sun, May 27 at 5pm* Kongo: 50 Years of Independence of Congo (2010) Directed by Daniel Cattier Drawing on the region’s historiography and using the latest methods of docudrama filmmaking, Kongo is a documentary series in three parts that offers an original and new perspective on the colonization of the Congo, the largest country in Central Africa. *Q&A with Cattier
Mon, May 28 at 2*, 4:30*, 6:50, 9:15pm
Tales of the Night (in 3-D) (2011) Directed by Michel Ocelot In this tapestry of six exotic fables from renowned animation auteur Ocelot, viewers are whisked off to enchanted lands full of dragons, werewolves, captive princesses, sorcerers, and enormous talking bees. Ocelot’s (Kirikou and the Sorceress) first foray into 3-D continues the shadow-puppet style of Princes and Princesses, with black silhouetted characters set against exquisitely detailed Day-Glo backgrounds bursting with color and kaleidoscopic patterns. In English with French subtitles. *Subtitles read aloud
Credits Bloomberg is the BAM 2012 Winter/Spring sponsor.
DanceAfrica 2012 is part of Diverse Voices at BAM sponsored by Time Warner Inc. Target is the presenting sponsor of BAM Community Access to the Arts. Support for DanceAfrica 2012 and BAMcafé Live is provided by Con Edison. .
Essence Music Festival is the cultural partner of DanceAfrica.
FilmAfrica is part of Global Connections at BAM sponsored by MetLife Foundation. Major support for dance at BAM provided by The Harkness Foundation for Dance with additional support from Capezio/Ballet Makers Dance Foundation.
The Wall Street Journal is the title sponsor of BAM Rose Cinemas and BAMcinématek.
Programming in the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House is supported and endowed by The Howard Gilman Foundation.
Winter/Spring Season supporters: Bank of America; Chase;; The Howard Gilman Foundation; The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation; mcgarrybowen; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Donald R. Mullen Jr.; Stavros Niarchos Foundation; New York State Council on the Arts; The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation; Mikhail Prokhorov Fund; The Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Inc.; The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation; The SHS Foundation; The Shubert Foundation, Inc.; The Skirball Foundation; The Starr Foundation; Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund; Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Foundation; Steve Tisch Foundation; The Winston Foundation, Inc.; Friends of BAM and BAM Cinema Club.
Sovereign Bank is the BAM Marquee sponsor. Yamaha is the official piano for BAM. R/GA is the BAM.org sponsor. New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge is the official hotel for BAM..
For ticket and BAMbus information, call BAM Ticket Services at 718.636.4100, or visit BAM.org