For most culture mavens here on the East Coast, even a casual mention of the phrase Dance Africa lights up our eyes. And for those of us who are lifelong students of traditional and contemporary African Diasporic performing arts, the annual revival of our artistic essence has returned, resuscitating us for yet another year. In Miami Dance Africa takes place August 2-4, 2019 at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex 212 NE 59th Terrace, Miami FL 33137
There is a special nuance that takes place when a cultural community of like-minded people meet up. I feel like the most joyful of our collective ancestors, who introduced song and dance in celebratory fashion, gathers with us in similar manners as Dia De Los Muertos for my Mexican BFFs. I can personally always be found drumming, dancing, taking photos, conversing, shopping and buzzing energetically all about the place. Unlike traditional ballet that is more inclined to create specific matching shapes, I just love how studying African dance encourages us to move comfortably in our own bodies. This year I will even be selling my coloring books which celebrate self efficacy through visual arts. We come together every year to jubilate and validate ourselves and each other!
Carrying on traditions of cultural exchanges in the arts will always be near and dear to my heart. That's why whenever I am in Miami on a Sunday afternoon, I do my best to make it out to support the African dance and drum classes hosted by Delou Africa Inc. I have lived in Miami for 10 years now and their 3:00pm dance class remains forever a staple in my cultural lexicon. It is a sanctuary for self expression and continues the heritage of, who African dancers globally have come to know affectionately as, "Baba Chuck".
Originating in New York City, the Dance Africa brand continues to be "one of America's largest and most vibrant celebrations of African and African American dance, music and culture" [BAM Dance Africa]. I have attended in each one of my hometowns of New York, Chicago and Miami and without a doubt concur to the vitality that cements our cultural community's beloved festival. According to the Brooklyn Academy of Music [BAM's] website, Dance Africa was started in "1977 under artistic direction of Founding Elder Chuck Davis...with the aim of heightening awareness of African culture." Baba Chuck had superstar status in the dance world, with over 40 years of experience traveling, teaching and promoting cross cultural exchanges. His legacy continues here in Miami with Delou Africa Inc's 10th annual Diaspora Drum and Dance Festival and Dance Africa Miami the "traditionally sold-out" concert night.
"Our yearly festival is a springboard to community capacity building, to increase understanding within and between communities and to stimulate dialogue and increase awareness and sensitivity for culture within the African Diaspora...This year's concert extravaganza Seeds Of The Diaspora is a collective artistic collaboration that will feature premier and world-renowned native, national and local dance, drum and music artists, groups and storytellers." [Njeri Plato, Executive Director, Delou Africa Inc.]
For concert and class tickets CLICK HERE and I hope to see you there! Come say hi to me when you spot me bouncing off the walls with excitement :)