DanceAfrica celebration comes to Philly

The Kùlú Mèlé African Dance and Drum Ensemble will perform as part of DanceAfrica.  Photo: Canary Promotion
The Kùlú Mèlé African Dance and Drum Ensemble will perform as part of DanceAfrica.

In 1977, the Chuck Davis Dance Company constructed an African village within the confines of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The success of that performance was the foundation for DanceAfrica, an annual weeklong festival that features performances, workshops, and an outdoor bazaar. The festival has since spread to a number of other cities, including – as of this week – Philly, when the Community Education Center hosts the first DanceAfrica Philadelphia.

“The CEC has been looking to do more with the African dance and drumming community,” says Theresa Shockley, executive director of CEC. “Each city does its own version, but I think they’re all interested in having dance and drumming be the centerpiece of an effort to build and strengthen community.”

That initiative fits perfectly with the mission of the CEC, a nonprofit performing arts space that supports the local arts community through educational and performance opportunities. As Shockley says, “My goal with DanceAfrica Philadelphia is to bring attention to the fantastic dance and drumming community that we have here. But I’d also like to have people across racial and economic barriers realize what a powerful art it is and how it can, particularly for African-Americans, be an important part of building character and family dynamic. For me, that’s always what the arts are about.”

Shockley, who has performed in past DanceAfrica festivals as a founding member of the dance company Urban Bush Women, worked closely with Davis, known as “Baba Chuck,” to create a version of DanceAfrica unique to Philadelphia. The inaugural four-day festival, which she hopes will become an annual event, will feature performances by local ensembles including Kùlú Mèlé African Dance and Drum Ensemble, Kariamu and Company: Traditions and Illstyle & Peace Productions. In addition, there will be lectures and workshops, an Afro Beauty, Health and Wellness Marketplace, and an exhibition created with the Philadelphia Folklore Project called “Honoring Ancestors of Rhythm, Movement and Place.”

“Since this is our first festival,” Shockley says, “we wanted to look at the tradition of African dance from Africa through slavery up until today. The exhibit explores the political implications of what it means to be a part of that culture and to have that be an important part of your life. We wanted that history to be central to the whole event.”

DanceAfrica Philadelphia
Nov. 6 – 9
Community Education Center
3500 Lancaster Ave.
$5-$25, 215-387-1911
www.cecarts.org


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

News

Mets mascot Mr. Met target of Bill Clinton…

Mets mascot Mr. Met has told how he ended up in the crosshairs of a Secret Service sniper rifle. The man behind the Mr. Met…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

NHL

Rangers draw first blood against Flyers in Game…

Brad Richards and Derek Stepan scored power-play goals 47 seconds apart to lead the Rangers to a 4-1 win.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.