African Footprints: Deep US Imprints

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“To bring this show into America, especially now, when there is the possibility that there could actually be a Black President, is extremely exciting. South Africans can’t stop talking about it. All they want to do is meet Barack Obama,� says Ross.

[New York News]



 

African Footprint is about to make a big impression on the Bronx when this massive colorful show makes its exclusive New York appearance at Lehman College for the Performing Arts, located at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard, on Sunday, January 27th at 4:00 p.m. 


The beauty of “African Footprint” has left audiences throughout the world marveling as this huge extravaganza, consisting of both Black and White South African performers, culminates in a perfect meld of art, culture, and tradition. 


Its multi-racial bonding offers hope for the healing of the human condition.  Yes, these performers entertain, yet, some claim there is a heightened energy pregnant with love, hope, respect, and healing that remains behind with their audiences after each performance.  What African Footprint brings to the world stage and human heart is said to be nothing short of spectacular.


South African performer and producer, RichardLoring and his partner Debbie, started a school in South Africa for disadvantaged youth interested in the performing arts ten years ago.  By 1999, these young artists had an opportunity to showcase their talents at the New Year’s Eve Millennial Festival held on RobbenIsland, which is now a museum, but formerly housed South Africa’s political prisoners.  NelsonMandela hosted the event.  CNN’s coverage of the event catapulted Loring’s young troupe to fame, allowing African Footprint to perform before South African audiences for 7 years before touring Europe, Australia, India, China, Mexico and Israel wherein some cases, they received standing ovations between numbers.  African Footprint made its introduction to the American stage at the ContemporaryArtsCenter in New Orleans where they performed before an appreciative and enthusiastic audience whose performing arts theaters remain shutdown as the result of Hurricane Katrina. 


African Footprint
is presently on a multi-city American tour appearing in such cities as Fairbanks and Anchorage, AK; Detroit and Flint, MI; Schenectady, Rochester and Buffalo, NY; Dayton and Columbus, OH; Philadelphia, PA., and Ft. Lauderdale, Fl., and will soon tour Canada. The show promises to be a sensation reminiscent of RIVERDANCE.  “African Footprint” will treat the audience to an opulent and colorful array of costumes, drumbeats, tribal dancing, gum-boot dancing, and eclectic music that can be described as an African-European blend infused with a Broadway/West End sensibility.  The show’s music album went gold in South Africa.


“Part of the spirit and objective of “African Footprint” is community outreach.  It’s a show that transcends language and cultural barriers.” Stated CoryRoss, the tour’s Canadian producer, who actually carts around 1 ½ tons of costumes for the massive show.  “The moving lights are incredible.  These young dynamic performers bring South African history to the stage.  We start with some Zulu warrior numbers, show the 1950s townships of South Africa, dance gum-boot - a dance that originated out of the mines, stick dance and perform an incredible number with soccer balls,” continued Ross. 


At the height of the European tour African Footprint had 3 separate casts: one in South Africa, one in Europe and one on tour.  “We are hoping to eventually have a cast in America full-time,” said Corey.  “The show isn’t didactic at all.  It ends with hope,” explained Mr.Ross, who once pondered whether racism could ever be overcome.  Through his experience with African Footprint, Ross has observed a change of mind, a letting go of ignorance and a willingness to replace negativity with positive deeds.


“To bring this show into America, especially now, when there is the possibility that there could actually be a Black President, is extremely exciting.  South Africans can’t stop talking about it.  All they want to do is meet BarackObama,” says Ross.  “If Canadians could vote in America it would be vastly democratic.  This is an exhilarating time in American politics. I can’t imagine what’s more exciting -- a white female or a black man for President.  If it were a black woman, I’d be over the moon,” stated the producer/promoter enthusiastically.


African Footprint
showcases its own brand of excitement with its energetic light, sound, and dance scenes based on the experiences and collaboration of Richard Loring, a British actor/recording artist, producer (and South African transplant) and Black South African poet, Don Mattera.  “Loring became a big star in South Africa during Apartheid.  When Apartheid ended, Loring wanted to do something to help heal the country.  He understood there was a great deal of untapped talent in the townships where there was 40% unemployment.  He decided to harness these talents, train them, and enable them to get work around the world. 


In trying to come up with a show theme that would tap into the spirit of South Africa, Loring read some of DonMattera’s poems.  DonMattera, A former ANC freedom fighter from Sophiatown, is known today as the Maya Angelou of South Africa.  His book, Azanian Love Songs, banned under Apartheid, has become the centerpiece by which much of the lyrics and the spoken word within African Footprint is based. Together these two diverse men, one black and one white, have built this dynamic show.  Even actor LouGossett has thrown his support behind African Footprint.


For tickets call the Lehman College Box Office at 718-960-8833. Tickets are from $35.00 to $20.00; for children under 12, $10.00.  For additional info see www.LehmanCenter.org.


According to Ross, there is hope racism will end one day: "Within the last 10 years, white South African minds have been changing as they expose themselves to the Black South African culture. Racism can end.  Minds can change.  That is the message of hope in South Africa and that is the message of hope in this show.”

 

 


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