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‘Dance Festival Takes Over NYC Streets on Memorial Day Weekend in 2024’

The annual DanceAfrica festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music kicked off the Memorial Day weekend with a vibrant celebration highlighting the diverse cultural heritage of Africa, with a special focus on Cameroon. Under the artistic direction of Abdel R. Salaam, a series of captivating dance performances took center stage at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House from May 25-27.

The lineup included performances by the DanceAfrica Spirit Walkers, The Women Of The Calabash, and The Billie’s Youth Arts Academy Dance Ensemble, among others. The event also featured the mesmerizing Siren: Protectors of The Rainforest and a performance titled “The Origin of Communities / A Calabash of Cultures,” showcasing the interconnectedness of dance, music, and culture.

In addition to the performances, the Dance Africa Bazaar transformed the streets of New York into a cultural marketplace, attracting over 30,000 visitors. The bazaar, featuring over 150 vendors, offered a variety of food, crafts, and fashion from African, Caribbean, and African American vendors.

Celebrating its 47th year, DanceAfrica explores the history, arts, and culture of Central Africa, symbolized by the calabash—a vessel with mystical, practical, and cultural significance. Through dance classes, movement sessions, and master classes, attendees had the opportunity to immerse themselves in Cameroonian dance and music traditions. The festival also hosted a talk with DanceAfrica Elders, reflecting on the festival’s rich history.

Founded in 1977 by Baba Chuck Davis, DanceAfrica is BAM’s longest-running performance series, continuing its legacy under the artistic direction of Baba Abdel R. Salaam. The festival brings together local and global artists, masters, and audiences to celebrate the African Diaspora through a range of arts programming, including theater, dance, music, opera, and film.