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Memorial Day Weekend 2023 Cultural Highlight: DanceAfrica Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Throughout Brooklyn

In her essay, "African Dance is Medicine for the Mind, Body and Spirit," dancer, teacher and choreographer Cherie Hill wrote, "The more I perform African dance, the more I discover and enjoy euphoria. When the drums are beating and the body is dancing everything fits in sync and I feel limitless and powerful." 

Photo by Nate Palmer

Hill is honored with a portrait by Cecilia Lamptey-Botchway that's on display at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House during the annual DanceAfrica FestivalThe festival celebrates Black joy and resilience and the regal power of African dance. 

I mark my calendar each year for the DanceAfrica Bazaar, where I often run into old friends and see familiar faces. In a Brooklyn that has quickly become gentrified, I love to see us walking tall, beaming with pride and to quote Bey, "shining, shining, shining, yeah." And I delight in watching the parade of beautiful Black folks swathed in vibrant African wax prints and decked out in fly, Afrocentric street fashions. It's like a family reunion and although all are welcome, it's still for us, by us. 


Photos by Tony Turner

This year, I'm also excited to take a dance class and attend the main event dance performance. The theme is DanceAfrica 2023 Golden Ghana: Adinkra, Ananse, and Abusua (May 26-29; tickets start at $25; on sale at, and it promises to take the audience on a "choreographic and musical journey through the past and present of Ghanaian culture, connecting ancestral traditions to contemporary achievements." 

I hope to see you there.

DanceAfrica Program Highlights  

Photo by Nate Palmer

DanceAfrica 2023 Golden Ghana: Adinkra, Ananse, and Abusua (Artistic Director Abdel R. Salaam)

National Theater of Ghana's National Dance Company (National Dance Company of Ghana), BAM Restoration Dance Youth Ensemble, and DanceAfrica Spirit Walkers; Produced by BAM

BAM Howard Gilman Opera House (Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Ave)
May 26 at 7:30pm; May 27 at 2pm & 7pm; May 28 at 3pm; May 29 at 3pm; tickets start at $25

Under the artistic direction of Abdel R. Salaam, DanceAfrica 2023 Golden Ghana: Adinkra, Ananse, and Abusua program features one of Ghana’s best and most internationally known dance companies, The National Theater of Ghana's National Dance Company (National Dance Company of Ghana). The company will make its BAM debut and perform traditional Ghanaian dances and music, including the royal court dance kete and fontomfrom drumming, and collaborate with the DanceAfrica Spirit Walkers and BAM Restoration Dance Youth Ensemble on stage.
Part of the production will take the form of a lively club scene, complete with Ghanaian and Nigerian highlife performed by the 10-piece ensemble Arkestra Africa, featuring Afropop vocalist Amma Whatt, under the direction of K Osei Williams. The show will also include long held traditional programs including “Memorial Tribute to the Ancestors and Elders.”
Tickets are on sale now for the DanceAfrica Festival 2023 performances at

Photo by Tony Turner

DanceAfrica 2023 Bazaar

Saturday, May 27, 12—10pm; Sunday, May 28 & Monday; May 29, 12—8pm

Free, Ashland Pl/ Lafayette Ave.

DanceAfrica's popular bazaar returns, featuring more than 150 vendors from around the world offering African, Caribbean, and African American food, crafts, and fashion. Celebrate Africa and its diaspora's rich and diverse cultural heritage—and see the streets surrounding BAM transformed into a global marketplace.

DanceAfrica Community Workshop

Co-presented by BAM and Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy

Saturday, May 27 at 11am

Brooklyn Bridge Park (Pier 6 Liberty Lawn)

Free with registration, all ages

Caregivers and children alike deepen their engagement with DanceAfrica in this fun-filled, outdoor workshop led by BAM teaching artist and performance art education scholar Dánice Jones on Ghanaian movement and music fundamentals. Space is limited; pre-registration is required. Visit to register. 


Photo by Tony Turner

DanceAfrica Family Workshop

Co-presented by BAM and Mark Morris Dance Group

Monday, May 29 at 10am

Mark Morris Dance Center (3 Lafayette Ave)

Tickets: $12 adults; $15 family of two; $20 family of three; $25 family of four; All ages

The National Theater of Ghana's National Dance Company invites caregivers and children to explore the fundamentals of Ghanaian dance movement and music in this fun-filled, hands-on workshop. Space is limited; pre-registration is required.

DanceAfrica Physically Integrated Movement Workshop

Co-presented by BAM and Mark Morris Dance Group

Led by Pat Hall; Monday, May 29 at 11am

Studio B Mark Morris Studio (Mark Morris Dance Center 3 Lafayette Ave)

Tickets: In-Person: $12; Virtual: $10

Dancer, choreographer, and teacher Pat Hall leads this inclusive, interactive class designed for persons with or without disabilities. Choose to participate in person at the Mark Morris Dance Center or through livestream, and discover how African and diasporic dance forms celebrate community and aspects of daily life, providing a unique window into the culture, history, and traditions of its people.
For adults, all levels of experience are welcome. When you register, we invite you to share how we can make this class as accessible to you as possible and any other information that will help us best support your experience.

DanceAfrica Master Class

Co-presented by BAM and Mark Morris Dance Group

Monday, May 29 at 12:30pm

Mark Morris Dance Center (3 Lafayette Ave); Tickets: $12

An immersive workshop in music and dance led by the National Theater of Ghana's National Dance Company introduces participants to rhythmic traditions and teaches the fundamentals of traditional Ghanaian movement styles. For intermediate to advanced dancers.

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. Harvey Theater at BAM Strong is located two blocks from the main building at 651 Fulton Street (between Ashland and Rockwell Places). BAM Fisher, located at 321 Ashland Place, houses the Judith and Alan Fishman Space and Rita K. Hillman Studio.
Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5, Q, B to Atlantic Avenue – Barclays Center (2, 3, 4, 5 to Nevins St. for Harvey Theater at BAM Strong) 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
For more information, call BAM Ticket Services at 718.636.4100, or visit


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