The Source for Media Coverage of The Arts in Miami.
Articles, reviews, previews and features on dance and music performances and events.
Sign Up
No one logged in. Log in

Artburst Portal

Contribution Writers

Though the Miami New Drama-commissioned “Queen of Basel” will have its official world premiere at Studio Theatre in Washington D.C. next season, you don’t have to wait or travel to discover how playwright Hilary Bettis has reimagined August Strindberg’s controversial 1888 classic “Miss Julie.” With three powerful actors and a small audience sharing the stage space at Miami Beach’s Co..

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, now 33, was named a MacArthur “genius” grant winner in 2016, the same year his play “Gloria” was chosen as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for drama. Earlier, his provocative, stylistically diverse, subversive plays “Appropriate” and “An Octoroon” (the latter was produced by Coral Gables’ Area Stage last fall) each won best new American play Obie Awards. ..

"The Other Mozart" is a suitcase play – one of those shows where a single actress can pack the entire contents that creates the setting – costume, wig, and props, and go anywhere in the world. It is the way Samantha Hoefer will arrive in Miami to present Sylvia Milo's one-woman play about Maria Anna Mozart, the not nearly as famous older sibling of that 18th century rock star Wolfgang Ama..

Early on in the Argentinean film “El Último Traje” (The Last Suit), which makes its U.S. theatrical debut this week, a deceptively quaint and humorous scene takes place between the film’s protagonist, 88-year-old Abraham Bursztein and his young granddaughter. The little girl refuses to join in a family photo with Abraham surrounded by his many grandchildren. When he cajoles and insists, ..

Gone are the days when filmmakers needed huge budgets, and major movie studios backing them with big bucks to get their films seen, according to two producers who spent decades in Los Angeles, and have now moved their base to Miami Beach. "From a creative standpoint, there are amazing opportunities for filmmakers today," says producer Kevin Chinoy, who, along with producing partner Frances..

Mark St. Germain has achieved ongoing success with small-cast plays involving historical figures in fictional scenarios, and South Florida has been as welcoming to his work as the rest of the country. St. Germain’s “Camping With Henry and Tom,” about a 1920s camping trip involving Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and President Warren G. Harding, was produced in 1996 by New Theatre in Coral Gables..

Mexico City-based theater collective Teatro Ojo's works are constantly evolving. Nothing is ever really finished. That's because they take from every performance. Whatever the audience experiences, observes, feels, and offers feedback, which they highly encourage, all is used, considered, and included in the evolution of the same piece, or introduced into another new work. Two of the ..

“America’s Greatest and Least Known Playwright.”This is how the Cuban-American playwright Maria Irene Fornes is referred to several times throughout Michelle Memran’s documentary “The Rest I Make Up,” which makes its Florida debut this Saturday as part of Miami-Dade College’s Miami Film Festival. Fornes has been called the “Mother of Avant-Garde Theater.” Theater giants like Edward A..

“Once” has always been touched with magic. And as anyone who has seen the sublime new production of the show by Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables would tell you, the musical’s spellbinding pull is as powerful as ever. When Irish director-screenwriter John Carney first told the tale of a heartbroken Irish street musician and the spunky Czech pianist who reignites his passion, a 200..

Consider the idea of land in Palestine, and conflict may be the first thing to come to mind. But for Jumana Emil Abboud, the Palestinian landscape evokes other, older, associations – with mythological creatures like water spirits and ghouls. “These stories were told way before 1948,” says the Galilee-born artist, speaking by phone from her home in Jerusalem. She suggests looking back ..

DanceAfrica Miami Festival Tribute to Baba Chuck Davis


Photo: Photo C.W. Griffin.
Article Rating

 

Miami-based organization Delou Africa has been the ambassador of African dance and drumming in South Florida for the last 30 years. It started as a performing company, and has since expanded into a small dance empire. Coming up this weekend, Delou will again present its annual DanceAfrica Miami, a three-day festival of African dance and drum classes and performances.

Eight years ago, the organization started a dance and drum festival to bring guest artists to Miami (at the time, it was known as the African Diaspora Drum and Dance Festival of Florida). But in 2011, African dance legend Chuck Davis, affectionately known by students of African dance as “Baba Chuck,” paid a visit. With his blessing, Delou was invited to operate yearly programming under the umbrella of Davis’s widely known DanceAfrica, a network of annual festivals held in major cities around the country.
 
Davis passed away in May, a death marked both by sorrow and celebration. Honoring his life, Delou’s 2017 DanceAfrica Miami festival is all about "Baba" chuck Davis' legacy, with performances dedicated to him, plus a full program of classes presenting the African and diasporic dance traditions that he so passionately cultivated around the United States.
 
We spoke with Folayan Griffiths, vice president of Delou Africa, Inc. and the oldest daughter of Delou’s founder Njeri Plato. As a woman whose life has been shaped by the rhythms of African dance, Griffith crossed paths with Davis over the years and bore witness to his ever-growing circle of influence.
 
She filled us in on the details for this year’s festival and shared some of her experiences with Davis.
 
How long have you been a dancer?
I’ve been dancing since I was a young girl. In the womb I could almost say!
 
Is there a particular style of dance that Delou focuses on?
 
Usually it’s West African folklore. So from any of the West African countries: Guinea, Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Ivory Coast. We do other countries, but our expertise is more geared towards the west.
Are there commonalities among the dances from these countries?
 
Some of the dances are shared between surrounding countries, but for the most part, the dances are pretty different. What’s similar between them is the dances are usually done for a particular reason: a marriage, or a birthday, rites of passage, death. So usually African dance is done for a specific reason.
 
What is the overall goal of DanceAfrica Miami?
 
In general, the festival is used to bridge the cultural gap, to bring communities together to experience the African diaspora.
 
We try to make it very diverse -- not only [dance from] Africa, but also countries in the African diaspora, which means Haiti, Cuba, the United States. We try to showcase all of that at our festival.
 
Your program includes both dancing and drumming?
 
Yes, it has dance and drumming, or dance and music. The reason I say music is because we teach classes that deal with other instruments as well: the balafone, which is like the American xylophone, or the shekere, which is a gourd that has beads on it and is used as a shaker.
 
You are now operating as DanceAfrica. What does that mean?
 
DanceAfrica is a network of African dance festivals, in New York, in D.C., in Georgia and Pennsylvania. We are the newest city under this dance network. We transitioned to this over a couple of years. In 2011 we invited Baba Chuck Davis, the founder of DanceAfrica, to give him our Cultural Community Outreach Development Award. And when he came, he … basically endorsed us. He came every year after that. He set us up and put us in the right place so we can be successful with DanceAfrica Miami.
 
He passed away earlier this year. Do you have any reflections on his legacy?
 
He was such a free spirit. Even if you didn’t know him, you felt like you did. As a young girl, I had encounters with him -- and I’m sure he probably didn’t remember me. But when he came in 2011, he knew Folayan was Njeri’s daughter and that’s all it took. He was like, “Are you doing good in school? Are you dancing? Are you smiling when you’re on stage?”
 
It seems he really was a leader in the largest sense for the African dance community.
 
Absolutely. What made him special is that he’d been dancing since he was a young boy, and he continued to create. He kept it authentic, but he was also very creative at the same time. And anyone who danced with him or around him, they know the discipline he portrayed. If you see somebody dancing, you might admire their dancing; you probably don’t know where they trained, but then when you talk to them, they say, “Oh Baba Chuck was my teacher.”
 
For this year’s festival, how will you acknowledge his passing?
 
We’re doing tribute dances to him. We’re also going to have a libation for him. Once he transitioned [to death], we changed our program around. At the beginning we’ll do a slide show, and then we’re performing his favorite dances.
 
DanceAfrica Miami, Delou Africa’s African Diaspora Dance and Drum Festival of Florida. All-day dance and drum workshops, Friday through Sunday; concert Saturday, 8 p.m. Little Haiti Cultural Complex, 212-260 NE 59th Terr., Miami. Prices vary, adddff.delouafrica.org.
 

 

Leave a comment...
Must be Logged in
No one logged in. Log in
Leave a comment...
Was this helpful?
No Very

Captcha Image

About The writer

Cathering Hollingsworth is a dance critic and dancer

..

About the Writer

Ira Sullivan has been a musician for a long time. His father, part of a large musical family, was in the restaurant business. But he played trumpet for fun and stored his horn behind the couch, Su..

The music of Thelonious Monk has been a source of endless fascination and with good reason. Monk’s universe has its own laws. Beautifully constructed and quirky, soulful but also paced by br..

The first time the Amernet performed “The Seven Last Words of Christ” during Holy Week – the week leading up to Easter -- the string quartet played in darkness. Just hours before, cellist Jas..

Drummer Dafnis Prieto and pianist Omar Sosa closed this year’s Global Cuba Fest at the Light Box in Wynwood, Miami, with shows on Friday and Saturday, March 16-17 that suggested a sort of mus..

Mention flamenco and the immediate associations are with dancing, singing and the guitar. The piano has a rather tentative history in flamenco. While some scholars include the instrument in p..

The ancient Japanese art of Taiko drumming comes to Miami this Friday, with Tao: Drum Heart, which premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and has gone on to tour internationally, getting ..

It’s not by chance that the music of Cuban drummer, composer, educator and bandleader Dafnis Prieto unfolds with such purpose. An accidental immigrant in 1999 — he was living with ..

In the music of Las Cafeteras and Orkesta Mendoza, presented by Fundarte at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center Saturday, the border is no place for walls but rather, a moveable feast. ..

Performance Hall at New World Center was packed Saturday, Feb. 3 for the New Work program, which NWS conductor and artistic director Michael Tilson Thomas introduced as “one of the more adve..

"Nosotros sentimos, y pensamos que Jennifer y Carlos sienten igual, que Miami finalmente ha llegado a posicionarse como una verdadera ciudad cultural donde continuamente se presentan compañías imp..

El grupo de danza contemporánea Brazzdance dirigido por su fundador, el coreógrafo Augusto Soledade, se presentó el sábado 31 de marzo en el Carnival Studio Theatre del Arsht Center de Miami...

La undécima edición del Flamenco Festival que se desarrolló del jueves 8 al domingo 11 de marzo en el Arsht Center resultó ser un hermoso reencuentro con el Ballet Nacional de España (BNE), u..

Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida (ABTF) y su escuela de ballet adjunta, ambas bajo la dirección de Vladimir Issaev, se encuentran por estos días entregadas de lleno a la celebración del bicente..

El lugar privilegiado que ocupa Miami hoy en día en el mundo de la danza no tiene discusión. Además de contar con una vibrante oferta local de proyección internacional que dura todo el año y ..

Después de una serie de actuaciones muy exitosas en varias ciudades del Este del país, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) llega a Miami para ofrecer seis presentaciones del jueves 22 ..

La ofensiva espontánea protagonizada por BalletBoyz y Cie. Herve Koubi el fin de semana pasado en teatros de Fort Laudedarle y Miami, con dos propuestas artísticas absolutamente fuera de seri..

La atracción principal del tercer programa de la temporada 2017-2018 del Miami City Ballet (MCB) que se presentó el fin de semana pasado en el Arsht Center fue el estreno mundial de One Line ..

Llegados en vuelo directo desde Inglaterra, BalletBoyz (Premio Nacional de Danza 2013 a la Mejor Compañía Independiente) ofrecerá el sábado 10 de febrero una función patrocinada por Culture Shock ..