BAM Presents DanceAfrica 2014: Celebrating Africa’s Bantaba

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[] The festive Memorial Day weekend tradition under the artistic direction of Baba Chuck Davis returns with Groupe Bakomanga (Madagascar), AACC Dance & Drum Performance Company (Buffalo), Asase Yaa African-American Dance Theatre (Brooklyn), and BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble (Brooklyn)

[] Madagascar Slim and Hanitrarivo Rasoanaivo headline Special Opening Celebration on Sunday, May 18

[] The 37th annual celebration also includes BAMcafé Live, visual arts, FilmAfrica, and DanceAfrica Bazaar

DanceAfrica 2014: Celebrating Africa’s Bantaba

Artistic Director Chuck Davis

BAM Howard Gilman Opera House (30 Lafayette Ave)

DanceAfrica 2014 Opening Celebration

May 18 at 3pm

Tickets: $25

DanceAfrica 2014 Memorial Day weekend performances:

May 23 at 7:30pm

May 24 at 2 & 7:30pm

May 25 & 26 at 3pm

Tickets start at $20 (half-price for ages 16 & under)

DanceAfrica, 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 variety of cultural sources, using jubilant accordion-driven music and traditional dance to honor itsancestors, 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. He will be joined by Hanitrarivo Rasoanaivo, whose band was voted by Time Magazine in 2001 as one of the 10 best bands in the world on a list that also included U2, Radiohead, Portishead, Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers, and Cuba's Orishas.

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

Hanitrarivo Rasoanaivo

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 Artists

Groupe Bakomanga is led by founder and Malagasy music star Mariette Rasoarinala. Since 1996 Groupe Bakomanga has toured Gabon, Reunion Island, Algeria, France, and Japan, spreading the diverse styles of Malagasy dance to the world. Mariette Rasoarinala began singing and dancing at the age of 13 in the traditional band “Ramahafadrahona” where she earned the nickname “Manga” for her powerful voice and exceptional energy on stage. She formed Groupe Bakomanga in 1996, which took its name from the title of a song she made popular. Rasoarinala was soon joined by Bruno Rodolphe Razanakoto, her husband and manager. She creates all of the company’s choreography and lyrics while always paying tribute to the traditions of her land. She is known for her skills on the traditional "amponga be" (“big drum”), which she plays while dancing. This performance marks Groupe Bakomanga’s US debut.

Listening to Jimi Hendrix in Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar, a teenage dreamer never imagined he would one day become one of Canada's top guitar slingers. But Randriamananjara Radofa Besata Jean Longin, aka Madagascar Slim, was sent to a Quebec missionary school by his parents with the expectation that he would become an accountant. The lure of music turned out to be stronger. He soon founded a French Canadian folk music group called "La Ridaine,” and rediscovered Malagasy music after seeing the first Canadian appearances of Tao Ravao and Tarika playing Malagasy blues and roots music. He returned to Madagascar and learned how to play valiha (a traditional tube zither). Madagascar Slim has played with Ali Farka Touré in 1995 and Angélique Kidjo in 2006 at their concerts in Canada. He has won the Juno (Canada’s Grammy) award three times. This marks his New York debut.

AACC Dance & Drum Performance Company was founded by Malcolm Erni, who believes that knowledge and understanding of traditional West African rhythm and movement can revitalize his beloved Buffalo East Side community. The company includes both adults and children and has developed under the direction of many West African and African-American dance artists. Its repertoire has been compiled with attentive care to the influence of American choreographers Katherine Dunham and Pearl Primus, among others. AACC’s participation is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts.

Artistic Director Yao Ababio founded Asase Yaa African American Dance Theatre in 2001 which consists of seasoned musicians, dancers, and vocalists. The array of artistic skill allows this company to create unique productions that portray the authentic richness of the African diaspora experience. The company has appeared in VH1 Hip Hop Honors Awards, the premiere of  Sing your Song, a documentary on Harry Belafonte at the Apollo Theater, DanceAfrica New York and Chicago, Kente Arts Alliance in Pittsburgh and at the first (2014) annual dance festival at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. In January 2013 Asase Yaa opened its own multi-cultural performing arts facility in Brooklyn.

An annual favorite and symbol of youth involvement in the preservation of African heritage, the BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble returns to BAM for the 18th year. Under the mentorship of Baba Chuck Davis, the gifted young dancers of Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation celebrate both ancestral roots and present-day community. The Village Voice has praised these young dancers as “exuberant and disciplined” and “a group worth following.”

Dr. Charles “Chuck” Davis, artistic director and founding elder of DanceAfrica (started at BAM in 1977), 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. Chuck Davis received a Dance Magazine Award in 2004, and he and DanceAfrica were cited as one of “America’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures: The First 100” by the Dance Heritage Coalition.

About DanceAfrica Pre-Opening Ceremony, Sat, May 17

DanceAfrica 2014 begins on Saturday, May 17 with a pre-opening ceremony at 10am at the African Burial Ground National Monument (290 Broadway, New York, NY). This traditional ceremony, which includes dancing and music-playing 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.

About DanceAfrica Visual Art

A DanceAfrica-commissioned sculpture will be exhibited in the windows of the BAM Fisher (321 Ashland Pl), May 21—31. Nigerian-born Chicago artist Nnenna Okore is known for her three-dimensional art-works made from organic recyclables. Egwu Ije, wwhich loosely translates from the Nigerian Igbo language as a sequence of choreographed movement, is a series of twirling, plant-like forms created from electrical wires, tape, thread, and paint. The piece evokes the spirit of DanceAfrica with an expression of unhindered energy and the lyrical flow of dance.

An artist talk conducted by BAM Visual Art curator Holly Shen Chaves will be held on Sunday, May 25 from 3:30—5:30pm at BAM Fisher (321 Ashland Pl). The free event includes a reception; space is limited. Wrist bands will be distributed on-site on the day at 2pm.

Nnenna Okore is an associate professor of art at North Park University, Chicago, where she teaches sculpture. She earned her BA degree in painting from the University of Nigeria (First Class Honors) in 1999, and an MA and MFA in sculpture from the University of Iowa in 2004 and 2005. She has received several national and international awards and been shown in numerous prestigious galleries and museums within and outside the US. She was a 2012/13 recipient of the prestigious Fulbright Scholar Award, which resulted in a year-long project in Nigeria. She was featured in the July/August 2013 issue of Sculpture magazine.

About DanceAfrica Bazaar

Each year, the free outdoor DanceAfrica Bazaar delights the large crowds with more than 200 local and international vendors who transform the streets surrounding BAM into a marketplace of African, Caribbean, and African-American food, fashion, artifacts, jewelry, and crafts. An estimated 30,000 people from all five boroughs of New York and the tri-state area sample these delights and bask in the communal atmosphere throughout the weekend. The Village Voice declared it "the boldest party in town" and The New York Times called it "a colorful kickoff for the summer street festival season." The bazaar features entertainment for families.

This year, about 15 artists and artisans from upstate NY will show their creations inside the BAM Fisher. This is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts and will bring the artistic achievement of upstate African diaspora to New York City.

The bazaar takes place on Saturday, May 24, from 12–10pm, and on Sunday & Monday, May 25 & 26, from 12–8pm on Ashland Pl between Hanson Pl & Fulton Street and the BAM Fisher (321 Ashland Pl). Admission is free and times are subject to change.

About DanceAfrica Workshops

Members of Groupe Bakomanga, along with Baba Chuck Davis, lead two dance workshops at Mark Morris Dance Center (3 Lafayette Ave). A family workshop for children and adults will be held on Monday, May 26, from 10—11:15am, followed by an adult workshop, from 12—1:30pm, for those with intermediate to advanced dance experience. Family workshop fees are $10 for adults, $5 for ages 15 and under, and the adult workshop fee is $12. These classes are co-presented by BAM and MMDG. Visit  HYPERLINK "" or call 718-624-8400 for details. Pre-registration is recommended.

About BAMcafé Live DanceAfrica 2014

Sat, May 17 at 9pm

A Tribute to Amiri Baraka: A Big, Bold, Beautiful Life

One of the most respected and widely published African-American writers of our time, Amiri Baraka was a revolutionary provocateur of black poetry and used his writings as a weapon against racism. His career spans nearly 50 years, and Brooklyn celebrates his life and legacy with readings and performances by Ras Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, jessica Care moore, Danny Simmons, Kevin Powell, Tony Medina, Black Ice, asha bandele, and the Burnt Sugar Arkestra.

Fri, May 23 at 10pm


Brooklyn-based EARTHMAN EXPERIENCE performs rock, funk, and soul, fused with Haitian rhythms. Vocalist, guitarist, and conga player Richard “Earthman” Laurent and DJ HARD HITTIN HARRY—both from Haiti—are backed by an ensemble of horns and strings. They’ve played venues including SOB’s, Target First Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum, and the Blue Note. At BAMcafé they will be joined by dance groups Cradle-N-the Rock youth ensemble and KaNu Dance Theater.

Sat, May 24 at 10pm

Late Night Dance Party with DJ Ian Friday

DJ Ian Friday—founder of the Global Soul Music label—is on a creative mission to bring soulful music from around the world to the masses. The writer, producer, and DJ’s global soul genre unites house, soul, afro-beat, jazz, and world music, and is influenced by musicians from Fela Kuti to Bob Marley to Stevie Wonder. His celebrated house music party Libation is now in its eighth year, and he is currently working on an album entitled Life Starts Today.

About FilmAfrica at BAMcinématek

This year’s cinematic companion to the 37th annual DanceAfrica, in association with the New York African Film Festival, features films from the Ivory Coast, Sudan, South Africa, Kenya, France, the United States, and a special focus on Madagascar.

Legends of Madagascar (2012, 93min) Madagascar

Directed by Haminiaina Ratovoarivony.

In this colorful road movie, Jim travels home with friends Bob and Dylan to visit his father, who is seriously ill. On their journey from the capital of Madagascar to the deep countryside, they encounter a host of characters who represent the diversity and vibrancy of the island. This “lively and impassioned” (Chicago Reader) adventure-comedy brings its three protagonists face to face with the future of their country. In Malagasy with English subtitles.

Fri, May 23 at 2, 7pm

The Child of the Sun (2013, 78min) Tunisia

Directed by Taieb Louhichi.

After an evening in a nightclub and a swim at dawn, three young people sneak into a villa, where they unexpectedly meet a mysterious writer. In French and Arabic with English subtitles.

Fri, May 23 at 4:30, 9:15pm

Angano, Angano (1989, 64min) France

Directed by César Paes & Marie Clémence Paes.

At once scrupulously non-interpretive and deeply evocative, this pioneering work of ethnographic filmmaking takes oral tradition as its central character. Venerable storytellers pass down the wisdom of their ancestors, recounting the founding myths of Malagasy culture for the camera and their listeners. In French and Malagasy with English subtitles.

Sat, May 24 at 2, 7pm

Short Films

This program features three short films that illuminate encounters between African culture and the outside world. Total run time: 97min.Cassa, Cassa (2013, France) Dir. Elodie Lefebure. Germaine Acogny, a leading figure in contemporary African dance and the founder of the École des Sables in Senegal, brings together 35 choreographers of African descent for two weeks of invigorating creative exchange.

Boneshaker (2013, US) Dir. Nuotama Frances Bodomo. Shot in gloriously grainy Super 16mm, this poetic and thought-provoking portrait of the African immigrant experience in Louisiana stars Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis.

Faisal Goes West (2012, US/Sudan) Dir. Bentley Brown. A family moves from Sudan to the US in search of a better life, but soon discovers the hardships of the economic crisis.

Sat, May 24 at 4:30, 9pm

Felix (2013, 97min) South Africa

Directed by Roberta Durrant.

In this family-friendly ode to the power of music, 14-year-old Felix dreams of becoming a saxophonist like his late father, but his mother thinks jazz is the devil’s music. After leaving his township friends to take up a scholarship at an elite private school, he defies his mother and turns to two aging members of his father’s old band to help him prepare for the school jazz concert. In English and Xhosa with English subtitles.

Sun, May 25 at 2pm

Nairobi Half Life (2012) Kenya

Directed by David 'Tosh' Gitonga.

An aspiring young actor from upcountry Kenya dreams of success as an actor in the big city. To the chagrin of his brother and parents, he makes his way to Nairobi, the city of opportunity. After being robbed of his money and belongings, he is quickly drawn into a world of theft and violence through a new friendship with a small-time gang leader. In Swahili with English subtitles. Screens with The Promise (2013, Nigeria) Dir. Akin Okunrinboye. A couple bicker about the state of their five-year relationship in this thought-provoking and hilarious short film. Total run time: 102min.

Sun, May 25 at 4:30, 9pm

Something Necessary (2013, 85min) Kenya/Germany

Directed by Judy Kibinge.

After civil unrest in Kenya claims the life of her husband and the health of her son, a woman struggles to rebuild her life amid the ruins of her home in the countryside. Left with nothing but her own determination, she encounters a troubled young gang member in search of redemption. Together, they must try to put aside their painful memories and move on. In Swahili with English subtitles.

Sun, May 25 at 7pm

When the Stars Meet the Sea (1996, 83min) Madagascar.

Directed by Raymond Rajaonarivelo.

In this poetic exploration of the relationship between traditional and modern concepts of human freedom, a child is born during the solar eclipse and, according to traditional beliefs, thought to possess destructive powers. Rescued by a woman from another village after his community leaves him to die, the young boy grows up embittered about his past, but ultimately must find a way to reconcile with it. In French and Malagasy with English subtitles.

Mon, May 26 at 2, 7pm

Burn It up Djassa (2012) Ivory Coast

Directed by Lonesome Solo.

In this gritty, inventively shot portrait of the Ivorian capital of Abidjan (a selection at last year’s New Directors/New Films), a wide-eyed cigarette seller hawks his wares on Princess Street, a famous spot for bars, dance clubs, and exciting nightlife. Now 21 years old he is desperate for a way out of the ghetto, but despite his brother’s exhortations, he becomes embroiled in the city’s criminal underground and finds himself running from the law. In French and Nouchi with English subtitles. Screens with Fueling Poverty (2012, Nigeria) Dir. Ishaya Baku. Censored by Nigerian officials, this powerful documentary uncovers the government fraud behind a gasoline subsidy that stole seven billion dollars from the Nigerian people. In English, Pidgin, Yoruba, and Hausa with English subtitles.

Mon, May 26 at 4:30, 9pm

FilmAfrica press contact: Lisa Thomas,  HYPERLINK ""  or 718.724.8023.

BAM Rose Cinemas (30 Lafayette Ave)

Tickets: $13 per screening for adults; $10 for seniors 65 and over and children under 12; $10 for students under 25 with valid ID (Monday–Thursday, except holidays);

$8 BAM Cinema Club Members Tickets available by phone at 718.777.FILM or by visiting

Bloomberg is the BAM 2014 Winter/Spring Season sponsor.

Programming in the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House is supported and endowed by The Howard Gilman Foundation.

The Wall Street Journal is the title sponsor for BAMcinématek and BAM Rose Cinemas.

DanceAfrica 2014 is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

DanceAfrica 2014 is part of Diverse Voices at BAM sponsored by Time Warner.

Major support for DanceAfrica 2014 provided by National Grid.

Major support for dance at BAM provided by The Harkness Foundation for Dance and The SHS Foundation.

Additional support for DanceAfrica 2014 provided by Travelers Foundation.

BAM 2014 Winter/Spring Season supporters: Bank of America; Brooklyn Community Foundation; Con Edison; Aashish & Dinyar Devitre; The Irene Diamond Fund; Ford Foundation; The Howard Gilman Foundation; Frederick Iseman; Suzie & Bruce Kovner; Leon Levy Foundation; Toby Devan Lewis; McKinsey & Company, Inc.; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Mikhail Prokhorov Fund; Stavros Niarchos Foundation; The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation; Martha A. & Robert S. Rubin; The Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Inc.; The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation; The SHS Foundation; The Shubert Foundation, Inc.; The Skirball Foundation; Robert L. Turner; Time Warner Inc.; Viacom; The Wall Street Journal; The Winston Foundation, Inc.

In The Raw is the Zero Calorie Sweetener of BAM. Pepsi is the official beverage of BAM. Yamaha is the official piano for BAM.

Your tax dollars make BAM programs possible through funding from the City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts. The BAM facilities are owned by the City of New York and benefit from public funds provided through the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; the New York City Council, including the Brooklyn Delegation of the Council; and the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President.

BAM would like to thank the Brooklyn Delegations of the New York State Assembly, Joseph R. Lentol, Delegation Leader; and New York Senate, Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Delegation Leader.

General Information

BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, BAM Rose Cinemas, and BAMcafé are located in the Peter Jay Sharp building at 30 Lafayette Avenue (between St Felix Street and Ashland Place) in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. BAM Harvey Theater is located two blocks from the main building at 651 Fulton Street (between Ashland and Rockwell Places). Both locations house Greenlight Bookstore at BAM kiosks. BAM Fisher, located at 321 Ashland Place, is the newest addition to the BAM campus and houses the Judith and Alan Fishman Space and Rita K. Hillman Studio. BAM Rose Cinemas is Brooklyn’s only movie house dedicated to first-run independent and foreign film and repertory programming. BAMcafé, operated by Great Performances, offers a bar menu and dinner entrées prior to BAM Howard Gilman Opera House evening performances. BAMcafé also features an eclectic mix of spoken word and live music for BAMcafé Live on Friday and Saturday nights with a drink and small plate menu available starting at 6pm.

Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5, Q, B to Atlantic Avenue – Barclays Center (2, 3, 4, 5 to Nevins St for Harvey Theater) D, N, R to Pacific Street; G to Fulton Street; C to Lafayette Avenue

Train: Long Island Railroad to Atlantic Terminal – Barclays Center

Bus: B25, B26, B41, B45, B52, B63, B67 all stop within three blocks of BAM

Car: Commercial parking lots are located adjacent to BAM

For ticket information, call BAM Ticket Services at 718.636.4100, or visit

BAM 2014 Winter/Spring Season is sponsored by Bloomberg

DanceAfrica Upstate/Downstate Exchange is supported by New York State Council on the Arts and National Grid 


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