DanceAfrica 2024 Transforms Streets Of NYC During Memorial Day Weekend

Now in its 47th year, DanceAfrica, founded in 1977 by the late Baba Chuck Davis, is BAM's longest-running performance series.

Brooklyn Academy of Music’s iconic DanceAfrica festival offered a vibrant celebration Memorial Day weekend that honoring the rich cultural tapestry of Africa, casting a spotlight on the heritage of Cameroon.

Under Artistic Director Abdel R. Salaam’s curation, an unforgettable lineup of soul-stirring dance performances graced the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House. Performances included the DanceAfrica Spirit Walkers, the empowered artistry of The Women Of The Calabash, and the youthful exuberance of The Billie’s Youth Arts Academy Dance Ensemble. The captivating Siren: Protectors of The Rainforest took the stage, and attendees were graced with The Origin of Communities/A Calabash of Cultures, a performance that illuminated the profound interconnectivity between dance, music, and culture.

Beyond the stage, the DanceAfrica Bazaar transformed the streets of New York into a cultural marketplace, drawing an impressive crowd of over 30,000 visitors. According to BAM, the bazaar featured over 150 vendors and introduced visitors to an array of food, crafts, and fashion by African, Caribbean, and African-American creators.

“Now in its 47th year, DanceAfrica explores the past and present of Central African history, arts, and culture, as symbolized by the calabash—a vessel of mystical, practical, and cultural significance,” the multi-arts center wrote on its YouTube channel.

Extending the cultural immersion, DanceAfrica 2024 offered a dance class, movement session, and master class for attendees to submerge into Cameroonian dance and music traditions. Attendees also gained insights through a talk with DanceAfrica Elders, who reflected on the festival’s history.

Founded in 1977 by the late visionary Baba Chuck Davis, DanceAfrica celebrates the African Diaspora and is BAM’s longest-running performance series. Since 2015, the festival has continued its legacy under Salaam. BAM merges the artistic communities of local and global artists, masters and audiences at its multi-arts center. Its programming spans theater, dance, music, opera, and film.