Bahia: The Black Side Of Brazil Presents ‘African Rhythm, African Roots’

Balé Folclórico da Bahia will be featured at DanceAfrica 2015 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Photo by Wendall Wagner

An un-objective, hearty and gracious “thank you” must be extended to the community’s own Baba Charles “Chuck” Davis who, after 38 years of annual DanceAfrica presentations, is passing the torch of artistic director to an heir.

It is with sincere gratitude that audiences will say “thanks” to the dance master who has enlightened more than a few about the numerous body expressions emanating out of Africa and the Caribbean.

Each year in May, he has exposed the community to troupes from all regions of the Motherland. More than 80 companies from the Ivory Coast, Congo, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zaire, Benin, Uganda, Ghana, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Peru, Zambia, Madagascar, and Brazil have been showcased.

In addition, companies from all across the U.S. have participated in his trailblazing festival throughout the years.

Local dancers from Harlem, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx have demonstrated the wide range of African dance.

Next year, Abdel R. Salaam will assume the title of artistic director for DanceAfrica.

“After 38 years, I’m happily moving aside to allow for fresh new ideas from my ‘dance son’ Brother Abdel Salaam,” Davis said of his decision.

However, Baba Chuck will continue to be involved under a new and honorary title of artistic director emeritus.

On May 25, the DanceAfrica community will pay tribute to “Baba Chuck.”

This year’s edition celebrates Brazil, tracing the transatlantic roots of the country’s vibrant music and dance traditions.

At that performance, audiences will readily respond with “Amee! to his “Ago!” for sure.

What a way to say farewell, and thanks?

“Brazilian Rhythms, African Roots” — such a combination must have been conceived because the South American country boasts the largest population of Africans outside of the continent.

That a majority of African-Brazilians reside in Bahia is definitely another reason Baba Chuck invited Bale Folklorico da Bahia to perform inside America’s oldest performing arts center. And that they will perform on Memorial Day weekend during the nation’s largest African dance festival seems more than coincidental.

The 32-member company promises the sights and sounds of their heritage and culture. They are the only professional folk dance company in Brazil.

Based in Salvador, in the northern state of Bahia, their program will delight when they perform a repertory originated from Bahian folkloric dances of African origin.

Slave dances, capoeira (a form of martial arts), samba and the body gyrations associated with the celebration of carnival are all part of the plan to spotlight the region’s culture within a contemporary theatrical vision.

What is guaranteed is the pageantry and African hybrid with Latin America that lyrically unleashes the beat and a love song patrons will relate to and may even want to blame on the bossanova.

Pulsating drumming will be amplified by colorful costumes and the pageantry of carnival will be present in Brooklyn.

For many, Brazil personifies football, beach bodies, string bikinis, palm products, samba, and the most fluent Portuguese outside of Portugal.

In Bahia, African-Brazilians boast Black culture and as a destination proudly hosts heritage tours that African-American find alluring.

And while FilmAfrica, an outdoor bazaar, a late-night dance party, food, and reunions, a memorable experience and the last opportunity to publicly salute Baba Chuck, clap, cheer and catch the rhythms provide additional reasons to spend May 22 to 25 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Ago! Amee!

Catch you on The Inside!

More from Around NYC