BAM presents DanceAfrica 2021| Vwa zanset yo: y’ap pale, n’ap danse!

We got the amazing opportunity to sit down and explore DanceAfrica 2021 premiering virtually on May 29, 2021, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). For over 40 years, BAM continues to highlight the African culture through fashion, artistry, and dance. The greatly anticipated virtual festival extends its celebration of African culture to the Caribbean by highlighting the first Black independent nation, Haiti.

When asked for the inspiration behind this event, Artistic Director Abdel R. Salaam says, “Haitian folkloric dance is one of the most profound forms of vernacular dance and cultural expression that we have within the diaspora in the new world. It links us directly to the African continent in language, movement, nuance, and texture. When we call upon, or we relate to those particular divine forces of nature as manifested in dance and music, there's an inner voice and empowerment that begins to rise within our own being and understanding. I'm continually empowered by the essence of that culture.” (Dance Enthusiasts, May 2021)

  1. For starters, tell us a little about DanceAfrica?

DanceAfrica is Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)'s longest-running program and America's largest celebration of African dance, music, and culture representing the African diaspora. Founded in 1977 by Chuck Davis with the aim of heightening awareness of African culture, the festival has evolved into a beloved annual Memorial Day weekend event that brings together the entire community. Over the years, DanceAfrica has expanded with performances in several major cities, through the leadership of Chuck Davis and the DanceAfrica Council of Elders.

The Council of Elders are an instrumental part of the evolution of DanceAfrica. With over 40 artists, producers, musicians, healers, designers, and activists involved, the Council of Elders provides support on every level to the production of DanceAfrica. From choreography to garment making, artistry, and interpretation, the Council of Elders continues to preserve the history of African culture each year at DanceAfrica.

In 2015, Chuck Davis stepped into his new role as Artistic Director Emeritus and graciously passed the Artistic Director baton to Abdel R. Salaam. Baba Chuck passed away in 2017, and we continue to honor his legacy.

Every year DanceAfrica continues to welcome artists across the African diaspora to the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House. The performances include traditional and contemporary dance companies, students of BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble, and live music. The weekend-l