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DanceAfrica 2024 Returns to Brooklyn Academy of Music

The DanceAfrica Bazaar is one of my favorite annual street fairs. I love to watch folks show up and show out in their flyest Afrocentric garb and to shop for handmade beaded bracelets and earrings from the African vendors.  And when I'm fortunate enough to snag a ticket as I did this year courtesy of BAM, I enjoy watching the kinetic African dancers (this time the country featured is Cameroon) during the spirited and spirit-filled DanceAfrica performance at the Howard Gilman Opera House.  

(Photos courtesy of BAM/Tony Turner)

If you want to join in the fun, here's the weekend lineup that's truly for the culture.

DanceAfrica 2024: The Origin of Communities / A Calabash of Cultures

Artistic Director Abdel R. Salaam

DanceAfrica Spirit Walkers, Women Of The Calabash, The Billie's Youth Arts Academy Dance Ensemble, and Siren – Protectors of The Rainforest

Fri, May 24 at 7:30pm; Sat, May 25 at 2pm & 7pm; Sun, May 26 at 3pm

BAM Howard Gilman Opera House  (Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Ave)

Tickets start at $34.50 fees included (half-price for ages 16 & under)

 

The festival's anchor performance, The Origin of Communities / A Calabash of Cultures, under the artistic vision of Abdel R. Salaam, welcomes Siren: Protectors of the Rainforest known for captivating performances blending traditional African dance with contemporary flair. Led by Cameroonian-born Mafor Mambo Tse, the Brooklyn-based company complements this year's theme, expanding its exploration of Cameroonian cultural practices, and highlighting the interconnectedness of dance, music, and the ancient foundations of human culture.

 

They will be joined by the DanceAfrica Spirit Walkers and The Billie's Youth Arts Academy Dance Ensemble, enriched by the intricate sounds of the Women Of The Calabash. Known for their mesmerizing polyphonic sound created by playing calabashes of various sizes, they showcase the diversity and creativity of Cameroon's musical and dance traditions.

 

The artistic vision of the show is brought to life with lighting design by Al Crawford, music and sound design by David Margolin Lawson, costume designs by Wunmi Olaiya, and set design by Jasiri AU Kafele, creating an immersive experience that celebrates the depth of Cameroonian culture. Tickets are available for purchase at BAM.org.




DANCE CLASSES


DanceAfrica Community Class

Co-presented by BAM and Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy

Sat. May 25 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 learning rhythms and movement from Cameroon. Space is limited; pre-registration is required. Visit this link to register.

 

DanceAfrica Family Class

Co-presented by BAM and Mark Morris Dance Group

Mon, May 27 at 10am

Duffy Studio (Mark Morris Dance Center, 3 Lafayette Ave)

Tickets are $12 for adults; $15 family of two; $20 family of three; and $25 family of four

All ages

 

DanceAfrica invites families to explore the fundamentals of Cameroonian dance movement and music in this fun-filled, hands-on workshop led by a professional dance artist. Space is limited; pre-registration is required. Visit this link to register.

 

 

DanceAfrica Physically Integrated Movement Class

Co-presented by BAM and Mark Morris Dance Group

Led by Pat Hall

Mon, May 27 at 11am

Studio E Mark Morris Studio (Mark Morris Dance Center, 3 Lafayette Ave)

Tickets are $12 for In-Person; $10 for Virtual

 

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 a livestream, and discover how dance forms from Cameroon celebrate community and aspects of daily life, providing a unique window into the culture, history, and traditions of its people. Visit this link to register.

 

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 Masterclass

Co-presented by BAM and Mark Morris Dance Group

Mon, May 27 at 12:30pm

Duffy Studio (Mark Morris Dance Center, 3 Lafayette Ave)

Tickets are $12 for In-Person

 

A professional dance artist leads this immersive workshop introducing participants to Cameroonian rhythmic traditions and movement styles. For intermediate to advanced dancers. Visit this link to register.



 

COMMUNITY EVENTS


Tribute to the Ancestors

In partnership with Weeksville Heritage Center

Sat, May 18 at 10am

Weeksville Heritage Center (158 Buffalo Avenue)

Free

 

Under the guidance of artistic director Abdel R. Salaam and the DanceAfrica Council of Elders, this traditional tribute to those who have passed features music and drumming, dance performances, and a libation ceremony conducted by the Council of Elders.

 

Community Day

In association with The Billie's Youth Arts Academy

Sat, May 18 at 1pm

Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza (1368 Fulton St)

Free

 

DanceAfrica 2024 gets started with our annual Restoration DanceAfrica Community Day Kickoff. This year’s program celebrates The Billie Holiday Theatre's Youth Arts Academy's 27th year participating in DanceAfrica. The event includes performances by special guest artists, current Youth Arts Academy students, Pre-Professional Training Program members, and more!

 

 

The Memorial Room

Thu, May 23, 6pm-10pm

Fri, May 24, 1pm-10pm

Sat, May 25, 1pm-10pm

Sun, May 26, 12pm-6pm

Mon, May 27, 12pm-6pm

Devitre Lounge (Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Avenue)

Free and open to the public

 

The Memorial Room is dedicated to preserving the tradition of paying homage to the ancestors of DanceAfrica's past and present and the ancestors of the visiting companies. Curated by Mama Linda Evans and the DanceAfrica Council of Elders.



DanceAfrica 2024 Bazaar

Sat, May 25, 12pm—10pm

Sun, May 26, 12pm—8pm

Mon; May 27, 12pm—8pm

Ashland Pl/ Lafayette Ave

Free

 

Each year, the free outdoor DanceAfrica Bazaar serves as a gathering place for diverse crowds from all five boroughs of New York and the tri-state area, attracting an estimated 30,000 people throughout the weekend. The Bazaar includes nearly 200 local and international vendors, transforming the streets surrounding BAM into a global marketplace of African, Caribbean, and African American food, fashion, artifacts, jewelry, and crafts. The New York Times has called it "a colorful kickoff for the summer street festival season."

 

 

Council of Elders Roundtable: Legacy & Preservation

With members of the DanceAfrica Council of Elders

Sun, May 26 at 12:30pm

The Adam Space/BAMcafé (Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Ave)

Free with registration, first come, first served

 

DanceAfrica's Council of Elders has been an instrumental part of the festival since its inception. In this roundtable discussion, members of the Council discuss the importance of their work to create connections between the ancestors, the art and culture of Africa, its diaspora, and the community that gathers at BAM each year. In conjunction with the ongoing DanceAfrica Oral History Project, this conversation serves as a gathering point and an opportunity for the DanceAfrica community to listen, learn, and engage. Visit this link to register.

 

 

DANCE PARTY

 

Late Night Dance Party with DJ YB

Sat, May 25 at 10pm

The Adam Space/BAMcafe (Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Ave)

Free

 

Keep the celebration going after hours with DJ YB, DanceAfrica's resident DJ, who brings a mix of Afrobeat, funk, soul, rock, jazz, and hip-hop stylings to the dance floor. Called "The General of Afrobeats," he has played in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, London, Paris, and elsewhere around the globe.

 


VISUAL ARTS

 

"Le course 2" (2024)

Salifou Lindou

Curated and commissioned for BAM DanceAfrica 2024 by The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA)

May 7—31

Dorothy W. Levitt Lobby (Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Ave)

Located along the escalator wall

Free

 

Salifou Lindou’s “La course 2,” created for DanceAfrica 2024, explores the perceived conflict between notions of challenge and play. The mixed-media work, done in acrylic, pastel, and collage on canvas, depicts a scene of running and playing, with gestures that express intense determination. The two shapes dance across the canvas, evoking momentum and urgency, and seem to merge into one, symbolizing the unity of the individual working to surpass past efforts.

 

As a companion piece MoCADA Digital Presents: The Independents | Cameroon, a dynamic podcast centering the voices of political leaders and historians, along with the potent music that soundtracked Cameroon’s journey to independence.

 


FILM

 

FilmAfrica

BAM Rose Cinemas (30 Lafayette Ave)

May 24—30

Tickets are $16 per screening for adults; $11 (seniors & veterans); $8 (members levels 1-3)

 

This cinematic companion to the annual DanceAfrica celebration showcases the best new narrative, documentary, and short films from across Africa and the diaspora, with a special focus on films from, and about, Cameroon. Curated by the African Film Festival.





 



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