For over 3 decades, New York has played host to the nation’s largest festival dedicated to African Dance and Culture–DanceAfrica.
DanceAfrica was founded in 1977 by award-winning Artistic Director Dr ‘Baba’ Chuck Davis, a North Carolinian native who wanted to show unity amongst the various local African dance troupes that were prominent at the time.
‘The concept for DanceAfrica came about as a way to squash rumors that all African dance companies were being disrespectful of each other. I contacted the leading companies and, instead of my Chuck Davis Dance Company doing a Brooklyn Academy of Music season, we decided to lay all rumors to rest by appearing all together! House was standing room only by word of mouth and its been standing room only every year since that moment’ Dr Davis explains.
Dr Davis’ love for African Dance and Culture is prominent through his community involvement. Initially he took up African Dance due to frustrations of how Africans were depicted in the media, ‘In the old days Tarzan was the great authority on things Africa. You know better and I definitely knew. To debunk this “crap” I figured to use dance as a way to grab the attention of the audience and “eudtain” them into learning the truth about the African Continent and its role since the beginning of time.’
Since it’s inception, DanceAfrica has become renowned for bringing a variation of indigenous African dance to the forefront. The event has showcased a diverse scope of styles ranging from traditional African dance to modern American hip hop infused with African influences. Performers have travelled from all over the continent and the diaspora to be part of this prestigious event.
This year’s event, ‘Celebrating Africa’s Bantaba’, will begin with an opening celebration on May 18. Dr Davis further explains, ‘DanceAfrica 2014 will highlight an area of the continent which is not as well known—Madagascar, a place that is alive and provides a different view of traditions indigenous to their homeland’.
Straight from Madagascar, dance troupe Bakomanga, will be making their US debut at DanceAfrica next month. The 17-piece troupe will perform the traditional ‘hiragasy’ song which will include an ode to their ancestors through traditional rhythms and tribal choreography.
DanceAfrica 2014 will take place from May 23 to May 26 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), with the opening ceremony taking place on Sunday, May 18, 2014. Dance Africa favorites including the outdoor Bazaar, the community dance workshops, and FilmAfrica (in association with the New York African Film Festival).
Visit the BAM official website to learn more. Click here to view the full program.