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DanceAfrica 2014: Celebrating Africa’s Bantaba

BAM-DanceAfrica-Festival-520x392DanceAfrica, the nation’s largest African dance festival, returns to BAM for the 37th year with its traditional Memorial Day weekend extravaganza of dance, music, film, visual arts, and community events. Under the artistic direction of Dr.Charles “Chuck” Davis, DanceAfrica 2014: Celebrating Africa’s Bantaba (“dancing ground”) shines a spotlight on Madagascar for the first time.

Music and dance ensemble Groupe Bakomanga of Madagascar, founded and led by Malagasy music star Mariette Rasoarinala, makes its US debut. Madagascar, the world’s second largest island country, with its infusion of African and Asian settlers and French influence, maintains a unique and diverse heritage. Bakomanga embraces this rich varietyof cultural sources, using jubilant accordion-driven music and traditional dance to honor its ancestors, to celebrate the rice harvest and other festivities, and to welcome visitors. Three-time Juno (Canada’s Grammy) award winner Madagascar Slim headlines the May 18 opening celebration with Malagasy-style blues.

In the subsequent DanceAfrica performances, Bakomanga will be joined by Buffalo-based AACC Dance & Drum Performance Company and Brooklyn’s Asase Yaa African-American Dance Theatre. AACC’s participation, funded by New York State Council on the Arts, is part of an initiative to create an artistic dialogue among dance communities across New York state and to showcase the diverse artistic achievements of the African diaspora. Workshops and auditions were held in Buffalo and Rochester.

DanceAfrica 2014 begins on Saturday, May 17 with a pre-opening ceremony at 10am at the African Burial Grounds (290 Broadway, Manhattan). This traditional ceremony, which includes dancing and music by participating artists, is an integral part of DanceAfrica that honors elders who have passed on. The event is free and open to the public. The same-day celebration continues at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza (1368 Fulton St., Brooklyn) at 1pm with the community welcoming of the visiting company, featuring free performances by students from BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble who have participated in the DanceAfrica Education program.

In addition to dance performances at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House (May 18, 23—26), the week-long celebration also includes the popular outdoor DanceAfrica Bazaar which hosts more than 200 vendors selling crafts, food, and fashion; FilmAfrica, a BAMcinématek film series at BAM Rose Cinemas; master classes for families and adults; and BAMcafé Live performances, complete with a Late Night Dance Party. A specially commissioned sculpture by Nnenna Okore, with an artist talk and reception on May 25, extends the DanceAfrica artistic vision to contemporary arts. The 2014 recipients of the Samuel H. Scripps BAM Scholarship for post-secondary education will be presented with their awards on the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House stage at the May 18 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 Samuel Scripps. The scholarship exclusively benefits students who have participated in BAM’s arts education programs, including the DanceAfrica Education initiative.

DanceAfrica 2014 performance schedule

Opening Celebration, Sun, May 18 at 3pm*

Featuring Madagascar Slim

Groupe Bakomanga

BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble

Council of Elders and Candle Bearers

*Traditional libation ceremony on the steps of the Peter Jay Sharp Building precedes the

Opening Celebration, at approximately 2:30pm

Memorial Day Weekend, May 23—26

Groupe Bakomanga (Madagascar)

Asase Yaa African-American Dance Theatre (Brooklyn)

AACC Dance & Drum Performance Company (Buffalo)

BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble (Brooklyn)

Lighting design by Al Crawford


About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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