African Dance/Brooklyn Style

Sunday, February 28, 2010, 2 - 5pm 
Walt Whitman Theater Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts
Brooklyn College (BCBC)
2900 Campus Rd. & Hillel Pl. (Flatbush) 

BAC kicks off its year of programming with African Dance/ Brooklyn Style, a FREE celebratory dance extravaganza designed to shed light on the evolution of Brooklyn's Black culture through the performances of a range of dance companies, dance artists and dance styles' folk, modern, postmodern-each incorporating African dance as a root in rhythm, step or gesture. African dance has been a source of inspiration in Brooklyn since the 1960s. It is the pre-eminent artform of the African diaspora in Brooklyn, along with drumming styles and rhythms. In the 21st century many young dancers have been inspired to interpret traditional African and African diasporic dance forms in exciting post-modern deconstructions-examples include Baraka de Soleil, Camille A. Brown and Afro-Mosiac Soul who will be sharing the stage with traditionalists such as the traditional Panamanian dance troupe Conjunto Nuevo Milenio, Afro- Brooklyn Jumbies (Afro-Caribbean moko jumbie /stiltwalking) and Asase Yaa (West African Traditional).

Presented by BAC. Free! 

Black Brooklyn Renaissance, 1960-2010, begins its year of celebration with a call to the African ancestors facilitated by Gue-Pelou, the Sacred Mask of the Forest, one of the most powerful and sacred masks from northern Ivory Coast. The mask tradition in Ivory Coast is a central aspect of life in villages, towns and cities. A constantly evolving tradition, it embodies social, religious and communal beliefs in a dynamic and rhythmic dialogue between dancers, drummers and spectators. Each mask is invested with specific powers and talents, and initiation into the world of masks is highly secretive and selective. Gue-Pelou appears on stilts, traditionally at the beginning of special occasions. His power comes from his connection to the ancestors. He embodies the need to honor and acknowledge ancestors, who in turn send blessings and protection to all gathered together. He calls out his blessings in an unknown language that is translated by the drummer into colloquial African dialect. The audience is then urged to respond in kind, with a thankful 'Amina!,' reminiscent of 'Amen!'

The Experience combines traditional West African and African American movement & dance techniques to uniquely interpret African dance heritage in Black America.

Set to jazz music, this candid portrait of a woman, danced with taut gestures and fast footwork, bursts into action creating a witty and humorous portrayal of a character vacillating between uncertainty and carefree expression. The piece subtly incorporates contemporary Nigerian and Guinea-influenced steps with modern dance.

Mickey Davis & Dancers SWINGIN' IN TIME
Choreography: Norma Miller; staged by Mickey Davidson Music: Jazz medley including 'Back Bay Shuffle' by Artie Shaw, ''Posin''' by Jimmie Lunceford, and "Jumpin' at the Woodside" by Count Basie. Demonstrating important elements of the jazz dance called Lindy Hop in particular and swing dance in general, this piece highlights the use of call and response as well as theme and variation. ''Posin''' offers swing steps from the Big Band Era, and "Jumpin' at the Woodside" demonstrates the two types of Lindy Hop: the Floor Lindy and Air Steps.

Bunde, bullerengue and cumbia Darienita are danced in Darien, Panama, a region known for its large community of African descendants, who pre-date the migration of African Caribbean descendants to Panama for the building of the Canal. Bullerengue dances explore the playful interaction between men and women as they exchange and entice each other with sensual gestures while bunde and cumbia Darienita are local versions of dances performed throughout Panama and seen in Brooklyn as well. Conjunto Nuevo Milenio preserves performance of dances recognized by Brooklyn's Afro-Panamanian population.

Baraka de Soleil NOIR
A solo work excerpted from Non Je NE Regrette Rien (Minneapolis, 1998) this postmodern conceptual work reflects the pervasive influence of francophone culture inside the African diaspora, in Haitian Brooklyn, for example. The text is drawn from Frantz Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks (1952), and the Haitian song is 'Ogou O.'

Afro-Mosaic Soul PUPPETS 
Afro-Mosaic Soul demonstrates the latest in Brooklyn-style House dance, using role play to highlight symbolic differences between the limits of mechanical, fixed or guided movements and the ecstasy of dance that is free and limitless. Dancers use African diasporic forms such as voguing and Brazilian-based Capoeira along with acrobatics to show their attitude and skill. Originating in Chicago clubs, House evolved from disco, adding electronics in the early 1980s. It expanded in New York at places such as the Paradise Garage in Manhattan and it's still evolving in Brooklyn clubs today.

During Brooklyn's carnival time in September, moko jumbie stiltwalkers are found making their way through the streets of Brooklyn just as they do in Trinidad and Tobago before Lent. A dance descended from the West African Masked Society stilt dance that opened our program today, moko jumbie has evolved from somber to mischievous to celebratory in its diasporic reach. This Brooklyn-based troupe turns the Whitman Theater into street theater as the jumbies move through the audience in exaggerated hand-made costumes, while grooving to the pulsing Soca and Calypso sounds of Trinidad and Tobago.

Choreography: Youssouf Koumbassa and Karen Thornton-Daniels; staged by Karen Thornton-Daniels Music: Dellwyn Gilkes, Trabi Iize, Cedric Frank Stevens, and David Williams RDTC is the youth dance ensemble established by the Center for Arts and Culture (CAC) of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (BSR). The company receives training from DanceAfrica founder Baba Chuck Davis and shares the BAM Opera House stage with professional African and Afro-diasporic dance companies from around the world. Restoration Dance represents the future of African dance in Brooklyn and it is fitting to close today's concert with their performance of three different dances from Guinea: sinte, sosone and mandiani.

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