DanceAfrica 2017: Everlasting Tribute to Baba Chuck Davis

-A +A
0

Baba Chuck Davis. Photo: Brooklyn Arts Council. Flickr

The Healing Light of Rhythm: Tradition and Beyond

The Saturday May 27 afternoon production of DanceAfrica opened with a video tribute to Baba Charles "Chuck" Davis who made his transition on a Sunday two weeks earlier, at the age of 80. In the film we watched Baba Chuck dance in his youth and continue dancing throughout several stages of his life.
We heard his voice, we heard his wisdom, and we were consoled. We had been stunned by the news of his transition.
This 40th Anniversary of DanceAfrica, dedicated to the memory of Baba Chuck Davis, will live beyond human memory. A new work, "The Healing Sevens," conceived and directed by Abdel R. Salaam, joins traditional works that give life to Baba's legacy.
The setting mesmerizes, the talent astonishes. The imposing sculpture which occupies center stage, resembles large flames of fire or giant eagle wings, symbolizing power and ascent.
The sculpture changes colors as the performance progresses, infusing the high energies of drummers, dancers, and singers. The Forces of Nature make a dramatic presence black costumes and radiant crowns, elevated approximately eight feet above ground. Once the dancing starts it does not stop until the curtain drops for intermission.
Following a full hour when movement, color, and rhythm fill the stage, there is suddenly silence. The stage is jet black except for a Cosmic handshake between two former rivals. There in the dark and quiet is the bright light, coming from the hands of young men who earlier fought to the death. In that long moment when the two reconcile, there is the path to self-love. Hear thirteen drummers who drum as though they will never stop and experience "The Healing Light of Rhythm" as promised by the title of this program.
An emotional and exhilarating memorial service for Baba Chuck Davis, Founder of DanceAfrica was also held Sunday night at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Baba Abdel R. Salaam, current Director of DanceAfrica who was with Baba Chuck on the day that he took his last breath, told the attentive audience that Baba Chuck's bags were packed in preparation for travel to New York. Of course we know now that his heart was set on a greater journey. Baba Abdel stated that for several days, he and others could not mention Baba Chuck's name without weeping.
Baba Chuck, born New Year's Day, would travel from North Carolina to Brooklyn, New York, every February, in order to sit down with board members, presidents of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and several producers in careful preparation for the annual Memorial Day Weekend productions. He would travel the African Continent for the musicians and dancers to join African American dancers in this festival. The first outdoor festival featured an African market of dazzling fabrics, basketry, jewelry, books, cosmetics, and art; it also included an elephant and a camel for children to ride here in the streets outside the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
It was said many times by different speakers that Baba Chuck had a deep love for children. On stage and offstage the presence of children dancing and cheering dominated this evening tribute which included performances by Sweet Honey in the Rock, Asase Yaa, Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, IIIstyle and Peace Productions, and an impassioned Eulogy by Dr. B. Angeloe Burch, Sr. The ceremony opened with a peaceful and powerful performance by Women of the Calabash & Alakande which drew waves of applause from the audience.
It was well past nine when the tribute ended and the streets were dark, a few raindrops falling. Isolated vendors folded their tents and placed their wares into small vans, exposing the heavy labor that art demands. Only a few hours earlier, noisy crowds moved slowly through the streets, free, alive, looking, buying, conversing. Immediately outside the theater a double Dutch exhibition sent shouts of approval into the air as the rope jumpers danced their fancy rhythms. Further down the street, three young men seriously drummed while older men looked on.
That great artistic vision introduced 40 years ago opened pathways to joy. A thousand blessings for Baba Chuck Davis who inspires us to honor and respect our African traditions so that the healing light of rhythm can continue to illuminate our world.

Also Check Out...

NYPD AGREES TO PANIC BUTTONS,
NYC CELEBRATES FIRST WEEKEND
NAN HONORS PRESTIGIOUS CELEBRITIES
POLICE INVESTIGATE MOTIVE BEHIND
ACTRESS VIVICA FOX DISCUSSES HER
FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA