DanceAfrica 2015 at BAM

Baba Chuck Davis with two DanceAfrica Elders.
Photo by Amun

When the weather turns, and we start getting warm sunny days consistently, we know it’s that time again, DanceAfrica time. Dancers in their flowing colorful costumes will be floating across the stage at BAM. The rhythms of the drums are infectious and will get you moving whether you are sitting or standing. The outdoor African style market place you’ve been waiting for all winter will be set up along Ashland Place on the side of BAM and in its parking lot across the street. We get to see and patronize merchants that only come to town for this event, as well as the familiar merchants we see at street fairs and other festivals. DanceAfrica opens the season, as always with swag, and celebration, featuring dance, music, film, and community events.

This is DanceAfrica’s 38th year, having been founded in 1977 by Baba Chuck Davis, who is also its artistic director. DanceAfrica 2015 features Brazil’s foremost folk dance company, Bale Folclorico da Bahia. The theme this year is “Brazilian rhythms, African roots.” Baba Chuck Davis steps down as artistic director after this year’s festival, and passes the torch to his former student, the accomplished dancer, choreographer, musician, and teacher, Abdel Salaam. The DanceAfrica community pays tribute to its beloved founder, Baba Chuck Davis at its final performance this season on Monday, May 25.

Bale Folclorico da Bahia is a 32-member company of dancers, musicians and singers, who perform a repertory based on Bahian folkloric dances of African origin, capoeira, samba and Carnival. Joining them in DanceAfrica 2015 will be Bambara Drum and Dance Ensemble from the Bronx and BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble of Brooklyn.

The festival begins with a tribute to the Ancestors ceremony at Weeksville Heritage Center, 1698 Bergen St. on Saturday, May 16 at 10:00 a.m. The event includes music and dancing, and is free and open to the public. Later that day the students from Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration will present a special tribute to Baba Chuck at Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza, 1368 Fulton St., Brooklyn at 1:00 p.m.

Included in the festival, and taking place over the Memorial Day weekend is the popular outdoor bazaar featuring 150 vendors selling crafts, food, and fashion; FilmAfrica, a BAMcinematek film series at BAM Rose Cinemas; master dance classes for families and adults; plus a Late Night Dance Party at BAMcafe. DanceAfrica performances take place in BAM Howard Gilman Opera House located in the Peter Jay Sharp building at 30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn on May 22, 23, 24, and 25.

In the spirit of DanceAfrica, BAM Trustee Richard Feldman launched the Samuel H. Scripps BAM Scholarship Fund in 2008. This year’s recipients of the Samuel H. Scripps BAM Scholarships for post-secondary education, who are all students who have participated in BAM’s arts education programs, which includes the DanceAfrica Education initiative will be presented with their awards at the DanceAfrica performance on Friday, May 21.

Dr. Charles “Chuck” Davis is the artistic director and founding elder of DanceAfrica. He is one of the most sought-after teachers and choreographers of traditional African dance in America. He travels extensively to Africa to study with leading artist in the field. He founded the Chuck Davis Dance Company in New York in 1968 and the African American Dance Ensemble in Durham, NC in 1983. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. He received an honorary doctorate from Medger Evers College, and he was honored with a Bessie Award for outstanding service to the field of dance in 2014. The American Dance Festival 2015 is dedicated to him.

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Copyright: 2015 Ankhra House, Ltd.

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