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BAM Presents DanceAfrica 2021 Festival

The Festival brings together dance companies from Haiti and around the United States for unforgettable virtual performances.

BAM Presents DanceAfrica 2021 Festival

DanceAfrica is returning with new content reimagined for the digital space. Brooklyn Academy of Music's (BAM) DanceAfrica 2021 pays homage to the ancestral energy of Haiti, a metonym for Black liberation. On Saturday, May 29 at 7pm ET, the Festival brings together dance companies from Haiti and around the United States for unforgettable virtual performances around the theme Vwa zanset yo: y'ap pale, n'ap danse!, in Haitian Creole, or "Ancestral voices: they speak... we dance!". DanceAfrica Artistic Director Baba Abdel R. Salaam commissioned pieces from HaitiDansCo in Cap-Haitien and three American companies-Àa??a?? Dance Theatre Collective and The Fritzation Experience in Brooklyn, and Rara Tou Limen in Oakland. Here's a sneak peek at DanceAfrica 2021.

About the Performance

The virtual program features four dance premieres inspired by the characteristics of the lwa, spirits of Haitian Vodou. Each company pays tribute to a different lwa through traditional dance-Parigol, Agwe/Li Sirene, Banda/Guede, Petwo, and Nago. The dances manifest the lwa, bringing messages of faith, hope, and healing, and staying connected to the ancestors, and giving praise and gratitude. The performances embrace Haitian culture's strength, healing, and resilience through deep, rich, vibrant-colored scenes and landscapes depicting traditional dance movements, costumes, masks, headwear, and elements from the Vodou tradition.

Also performing is the BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble, an annual favorite and a powerful symbol of youth involvement in preserving African heritage. Many long-held traditions are reimagined for the 44th celebration, including a virtual Libation Ceremony and a Procession of the Elders that crosses the country, featuring elders from seven presenting DanceAfrica cities.

Created in 1977 under Founding Elder Chuck Davis's artistic direction, DanceAfrica has evolved into a highly anticipated and high-spirited Memorial Day weekend tradition that brings together the entire community. This year the tradition is reimagined as a virtual celebration allowing audiences from around the world the opportunity to be a part of the DanceAfrica community and experience new content designed and directed for screen.

The Festival, which is centered around the dance performances streaming on May 29, also includes the digital DanceAfrica Bazaar with over 20 vendors featuring crafts, food, and fashion (launching today May 5 on BAM.org); master classes for families and adults; and a choreographers' conversation on May 19 (see below). Details on the DanceAfrica visual art exhibition, the FilmAfrica series, and a late-night dance party will be announced at a later date.

Tickets for DanceAfrica 2021 dance performance go on sale Thursday, May 13 at 12pm/noon ET, at BAM.org/danceafrica.

Information on DanceAfrica programs here.


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