|Music and dance is at the core of African culture and Africa's children
throughout the Diaspora continue to lay claim to its rich legacy. No where is
Africa's enduring inspiration more evident than in the annual tour de force
DanceAfrica DC. Now in its 14th year, this celebration of rhythm and culture
has become one of the area's most anticipated communal rituals.
Where else is the African tradition in dance more synergistically linked with
the contemporary offerings it has inspired than at DanceAfrica. Over the
years we have swayed to the rhythmic linkage that flows from traditional
African dance forms from Benin, Ghana, Mali, Senegal and other African
cultures, through to such contemporary fare as step, hip hop and hand dance.
The 2001 them and lineup of performers are proof positive of the expansive
vision in dance. This year black women take center stage as the festival pays
special tribute to the beauty, wisdom, strength and contributions of women of
African descent. Participants include: Havana Select, International Capoeira
Angola Foundation, Melvin Deal's African Heritage Dancers and Drummers, Ezibu
Muntu, Sankofa Dance Theater, Coyaba Dance Theater, Tam Tam Mandingue,
KanKouran West African Dance, Images of Cultural Artistry and the Dono Dance
and Drum Ensemble, among others.
Ever present is the creative energy of Chuck Davis, director of the
African-American Dance Ensemble and DanceAfrica's artistic director. We owe
this, the nation's largest annual celebration of African dance and culture,
to his commitment to showcasing the African art form and empowering the
community through the performing arts. In 1977 Davis launched the first
DanceAfrica Festival under the auspices of the Brooklyn Academy of Music
(BAM). Since then the event has grown significantly and is now featured in
seven other cities. In addition to the celebrations in dance held in the
District and Brooklyn, folks are kicking up their heels in Chicago, Hartford,
Miami, Minneapolis and Los Angeles.
DanceAfrica DC is more than a feast for the eyes. Over six days there are
three types of activities planned. For those who would like to strut their
stuff, there are Master Classes scheduled (June 4-6 & 9-10) at Dance Place,
one of the area's strongest proponents of diversity in dance forms.
Instructors include some of the area's most renowned artists: Sylvia Soumah,
Assane Konte, Sherill Barryman Johnson, Baba Car N'Diaye as well as the
maestro himself, Baba Davis.
Then on June 9 and 10 there will be an all-day marketplace and well as a
whole host of music and dance filling the space both in- and outdoor at Dance
Place. The outdoor performances are free with a village celebration led by
Coyaba Dance Theater.
The Memorial Concert Performance takes place June 9 at 7 p.m. Davis will be
the evening's Griot, leading this tribute to Andrew Cacho. He will be joined
by Andrew Cacho's Drummers and Friends, Dance Place's Energizer Youth Group,
Melvin Deal, Coyaba Dance Theater, KanKouran West African Dance Company and
the Council of Women.
Tickets for the Masters Classes are $10 each. Admission to the performances
on the outdoor stage on June 10 & 11 are free while access to the indoor
affair will cost you $5 advance/$8 at the door. The Saturday night gala
tribut will run you $12 advance/$15 at the door. For tickets and/or a more
detailed lineup or performances please call Dance Place (3225 8th Street, NE)