DanceAfrica At BAM

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[Entertainment: Dance]

BAM’s longest running performance series, and one of America’s largest and most vibrant celebrations of African and African American dance, music, and culture, continues with the 33rd annual DanceAfrica festival, African Rhythms/American Echoes.

Created in 1977 as the nation’s first festival devoted to the rich legacy of African dance, DanceAfrica has evolved into a highly-anticipated and high-spirited Memorial Day Weekend tradition that brings together the entire community. Under the artistic direction of Founding Elder Chuck Davis, DanceAfrica 2010 features the Pamodzi Dance Troupe, from Zambia, Africa, joined by two American companies, Dallas Black Dance Theatre and Philadelphia’s Illstyle & Peace Productions.

The festival also features the BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble, an annual favorite and a powerful symbol of youth involvement in the preservation of African heritage, performing for the 14th straight year.

DanceAfrica 2010 will begin on Saturday, May 22 with an opening ceremony at 10am at Weeksville Heritage Center. This traditional libation ceremony, including dancing and music by the Pamodzi Dance Troupe and local artists, is an integral part of DanceAfrica that honors elders who have passed on to the ancestral grounds, and will be free and open to the public—for the first time—to officially kick off the festival. The celebration will continue at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza (1368 Fulton Street, Brooklyn) at 1pm with the annual community welcome for the visiting company featuring free performances by students from Restoration who have participated in the DanceAfrica Education program.

The week-long celebration, which is centered around the dance performances at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House (May 28—31), also includes the popular outdoor DanceAfrica Bazaar with nearly 300 vendors featuring crafts, food, and fashion; a BAMcinématek film series at BAM Rose Cinemas; master classes for families and adults; and an art exhibition that spans the lobby of the Opera House and Diker Gallery Café.

Additionally, recent recipients of the Samuel H. Scripps BAM Scholarship for post-secondary education will be presented with their awards on the Opera House stage during the opening night performance. 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 Sam Scripps. The Scholarship exclusively benefits students who have participated in BAM’s arts education programs, including the DanceAfrica Education initiative. Also on opening night, a member of DanceAfrica’s Council of Elders will be honored with a special surprise ceremony and citation.

Dallas Black Dance Theatre, founded in 1976, is the oldest, continuously operating professional dance company in Dallas, Texas. Under the direction of Ann Williams, founder/artistic director, the troupe of diverse, multi-ethnic dancers perform a mixed repertory of modern, jazz, ethnic, and spiritual works, by an array of renowned choreographers, including Alvin Ailey, Elisa Monte, David Parsons, and Alonzo King, among others.

Illstyle & Peace Productions is a multicultural dance company based in Philadelphia, PA. Founded in 2002 by Brandon "Peace" Albright and Forrest Webb, the mixed gender company fuses the movement and spirit of old school hip-hop with various styles of dance such as ballet, jazz, and tap.

Albright and Webb’s diverse affiliations and performing credits include Boys II Men, LL Cool J, and Rennie Harris Puremovement. The company’s performances are aimed at delivering a message of individual expression to audiences worldwide. One of the company’s recent works, Same Spirit Different Movement, was described as "a hip-hop revue with killer dancing" by The New York Times.

The Pamodzi Dance Troupe from Zambia, Africa, is a traditional dance group comprising artists from various community dance troupes, including members of the Zambia National Dance Troupe. The company is dedicated to the development, promotion, and preservation of traditional Zambian music and dance, both at home and abroad, with a repertory that includes a medley of styles from all nine of Zambia’s regions.

The BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble was established in a groundbreaking collaboration between BAM and the young people from the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration), a Brooklyn community organization founded in the 1960s with the support of Robert F. Kennedy. Now in its 14th year, this five-month-long program aims to foster a greater interest in the arts and the opportunity for members to participate in a professional program encompassing the performing arts, visual and literary arts, and cultural history of Africa and the African Diaspora.

The program—which includes more than 200 students from elementary, middle, and high school—features the BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble, which participates in the five performances on the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House stage. "Exuberant, disciplined young dancers from Bed-Stuy, the BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble are a group worth following," praised The Village Voice.

Dr. Charles "Chuck" Davis, artistic director and founding elder of DanceAfrica, is one of the foremost teachers and choreographers of traditional African dance in America. He has traveled extensively to the continent to study with leading artists including Ibrahiem Camara of Guinea, Rose Marie Giraud of the Ivory Coast, and American-born choreographers Nana Dinizulu, Katherine Dunham, and Pearl Primus.

Davis founded the Chuck Davis Dance Company in New York City 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. In 1992 he received the North Carolina Award in Fine Arts, the state’s highest honor.

In 1996, Davis and his 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. He received an honorary doctorate from Medgar Evers College in 1998.


BAM Presents DanceAfrica 2010: African Rhythms/American Echoes. Under the artistic direction of Chuck Davis, the 33rd annual DanceAfrica festival (May 22–31) features Dallas Black Dance. Theatre, Illstyle & Peace Productions, the Pamodzi Dance Troupe of Zambia, and BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble.

Opening Ceremony on Saturday, May 22 at 10am at Weeksville. Heritage Center—open to the public for the first time Celebratory Memorial Day Weekend tradition also includes the DanceAfrica Bazaar, African films, master classes, and an art exhibition.

BAM 2010 Spring Season is sponsored by Bloomberg. DanceAfrica 2010. African Rhythms/American Echoes Dallas Black Dance Theatre (Dallas). Illstyle & Peace Productions (Philadephia). Pamodzi Dance Troupe (Zambia) and BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble (Brooklyn).

BAM Howard Gilman Opera House (30 Lafayette Ave).

May 28 at 7:30pm

May 29 at 2 and 7:30pm

May 30 and 31 at 3pm

Tickets: $20, 30, 40, 50 (Half price for children 16 and under) or 718.636.4100

For DanceAfrica 2010, BAMcinématek will present eight films from the African Film Festival, Inc.’s Traveling Series. This year’s series features films from Chad, Kenya, Senegal, Zimbabwe, and includes Sex, Okra, and Salted Butter (2008) a new comedy from Mahamet-Saleh Haroun, the director of Daratt (2006).

Tickets: $12 per screening for adults; $9 for seniors 65 and over, and children under 12;

$9 for students 25 and under with valid I.D. (Monday–Thursday, except holidays);

$8 BAM Cinema Club Members

Tickets available by phone at 718.777.FILM or by visiting

Below are just a few of the many films:

Friday, May 28 at 2, 6:50pm

From a Whisper (2009) 90min

Directed by Wanuri Kahiu, Kenya

Commemorating the 10th anniversary of the August 1998 terrorist bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, in which over 250 people died and more than 5,000 were injured, From a Whisper reveals how an artist and an intelligence officer find unique ways to move on from the tragedy.

Friday, May 28 at 4:30, 9:15pm

Kaay Fi (Come Here) (2006) 52min

Directed by Zapo Babilee, Senegal

Discover the rich traditions of the Faye family as they prepare for a party called a tànnibéér, with footage of children learning to play the sabar drums, a tailor preparing the outfits, and the magnificent playing and dancing by the Faye family.

Preceded by Nora (2008)

Directed by David Hinton, Alla Kovgan, UK/US.

Zimbabwean dancer Nora Chipaumire relives vivid memories of her youth.

Saturday, May 29 at 2, 4:30pm

Azur and Asmar (2006) 99min

Directed by Michel Ocelot, France

The director of the beloved animated family films Kirikou and the Sorceress and Kirikou and the Wild Beasts returns with a delightful fairy tale set in North Africa. A jewel-toned visual palette inspired by Islamic art creates a magical world where two boys raised as brothers go on a quest to free a captive fairy. In French and Arabic with English subtitles.

Saturday, May 29 at 6:50, 9:15pm

Sex, Okra, and Salted Butter (Sexe, gombo at beurre sale) (2008) 81min

Directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Chad

Haroun (Daratt) reveals an incredible sense of humor in this comedy. An extra-marital affair leads to Hortense’s separation from her very traditional African husband, who is in for a ride as he learns about her love affair, his eldest son’s secret love life, and the responsibilities of single parenthood. In French with English subtitles.

Sunday, May 30 at 2, 6:50pm

Movement (R)evolution Africa (2007) 65min

Directed by Joan Frosch and Alla Kovgan, USA

This astonishing exposition of nine African choreographers from Senegal to South Africa challenges stale stereotypes of "traditional Africa" and unveils soul-shaking responses to the beauty and tragedy of 21st century Africa.

Preceded by Area Boys (2008) 25min

Directed by Omelihu Nwanguma, Nigeria

Lifelong friends Bode and Obi decide to repent their corrupt way of life.

Sunday, May 30 at 4:30, 9:15pm

Wrestling Grounds (L’Appel aes arènes) (2006) 105min

Directed by Cheikh Ndiaye, Senegal

When 17-year-old Nalla joins a champion wrestling team, he learns that wrestling is about more than muscles, money, and ladies. Wrestling Grounds twists the familiar images of Africa, cutting from nightclubs to ancestral ceremonies to streets where boomboxes play and athletes in traditional dress and sneakers dance their way to victory.

Monday, May 31 at 2, 6:50pm

African Shorts Program 89min


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 Shakespeare & Co. at BAM kiosks. 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, is open for dining 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 nights with a special BAMcafé Live menu available starting at 8pm.

Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5, Q, B to Atlantic Avenue; D, M, N, R to Pacific Street; G to Fulton Street; C to Lafayette Avenue

Train: Long Island Railroad to Flatbush Avenue

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 and BAMbus information, call BAM Ticket Services at 718.636.4100, or visit

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