In early 1977 the New York-based Chuck Davis Dance Company staged a remarkable performance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Influenced by a recent trip to Nigeria, their show incorporated elements of both modern dance and African traditions.
The critics were captivated. New York Times noted that, “the dancers performed with spirit, good humor and the kind of exuberance with which the Davis company consistently manages to draw in its audience” conveying “the spirit as well as the steps of African dance.”
The success of the show at BAM inspired Davis to create a day-long celebration of music, dance and culture from — and inspired by — the nations of Africa. He called it DanceAfrica.
In the 30 years since that first performance, DanceAfrica has become an annual Memorial Day weekend tradition. Now a three-day festival, the event includes performances, classes and films as well as a sprawling outdoor African Village Bazaar where vendors from around the world fill the streets surrounding BAM with movement, music and color.
BAM: 30 Years of DanceAfrica
Chuck Davis African American Dance Ensemble
NY Times: African Energy Celebrated Ebulliently and Symbolically
NY Times: Dance Review – African Pieces by Chuck Davis (02/27/77)
Wikipedia: Brooklyn Academy of Music