DanceAfrica, the nation’s largest African dance festival returns for its 42nd year to BAM from Friday, May 24 through Monday, May 27, with “Rwanda Reborn: The Remix,” under the leadership of Artistic Director Abdel R. Salaam.

Twenty-five years after the genocide, Rwanda has shed its past trauma to become one of the most prosperous countries in Africa. DanceAfrica honors the country’s path forward toward reconciliation and renewal, and pays tribute to its rich traditional and contemporary culture.

Inganzo Ngari. Photo credit: BAM

DanceAfrica 2019 is headlined by the Internationally acclaimed Rwandan dance troupe Inganzo Ngari. Founded in 2006, with the purpose of promoting the Rwandan folkloric dance tradition among the country’s youth, the ensemble is utterly beloved by Rwandans for its dedication to traditional forms and movement idioms, from warrior dances to a variety of crop rituals. 

The country’s contemporary culture and art scene will be represented by Rwandan-born spoken word artist Malaika Uwamahoro, who has just finished the Off-Broadway show Miracle in Rwanda.

DanceAfrica Portal, an enclosed video chat room, invites Brooklynites to engage in conversation with folks in Kigali, Rwanda. Photo credit: BAM

This year, BAM is introducing a new component to the festival, titled DanceAfrica Portal, an enclosed video chat room. The portal gives Brooklynites a unique opportunity to engage in real-time conversations with people in Kigali, Rwanda. Situated on the plaza of 300 Ashland Place, Brooklynites can participate during free scheduled open walk-up sessions or in one of the curated sessions and come away with new thoughts and ideas. RSVP is required.

FilmAfrica, part of BAMcinématic and companion to DanceAfrica, returns for its 26th edition, kicking off on Thursday, May 23, and concluding on Monday, May 27. This year’s program features a special focus on Rwanda, offering a showcase of the country’s best new narrative, documentary and short films. Highlights include “Sometimes in April,” a soul-shaking account of the Rwandan genocide starring Idris Elba, and “Dreamstates,” a mesmerizing tour, shot entirely on iPhones, through America’s Afropunk underground, featuring hip-hop poet Saul Williams.

For a complete schedule, go here.

This cinematic companion to the annual DanceAfrica celebration showcases the best new narrative, documentary, and short films from across Africa and the diaspora, with a special focus on films from and about Rwanda. Photo credit: BAM

The festival is also accompanied by a visual art exhibition, featuring the work of contemporary artist Innocent Nkurunziza, who is at the forefront of the growing Rwandan fine art movement. Working with a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, and fashion and jewelry design, this highly methodical, expressive artist mixes colors and textures derived from the people and landscapes of his surroundings. His latest abstract work, “Intense Emotions,” is a reflection of Nkurunziza’s Rwanda and will be on view through May 31.

As every year, DanceAfrica also invites the community to participate in several workshops for dancers and non-dancers of all levels.

The DanceAfrica Family Workshop invites dancers of all ages and levels to join in the fun! Photo credit: BK Reader

For future or aspiring dance masters of all ages, the festival offers the DanceAfrica Family Workshop, co-presented by BAM and Mark Morris Dance Group. On Monday, May 27, caregivers and children alike deepen their engagement with DanceAfrica in this fun-filled, hands-on workshop focusing on South African movement and music led by members of Inganzo Ngari.

When: Monday, May 27, 10:00am

Where: Mark Morris Dance Center, 3 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217

How much: $12 (adults); $15 (family of 2); $20 (family of 3); $25 (family of 4)

Adults of all physical abilities can be a part of the DanceAfrica community through an inclusive class, where they can learn the rhythmic clapping pattern of Icyizire and some of the basic traditional movements from Rwanda. African and diasporic dance forms celebrate community and aspects of daily life, providing a unique window into the culture, history, and traditions of its people.

For adults (ages 16 and up) of all levels and abilities. Participants are asked to share any accommodation needs in advance so that we can coordinate assistance.

When: Monday, May 27, 11:30am

Where: Mark Morris Dance Center, 3 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217

How much:$12

DanceAfrica Master Class at Mark Morris Dance Center. Photo credit: BAM

Intermediate or advanced dancers can join a member of Inganzo Ngari for an immersive workshop in the music and dance of Rwanda. Participants are introduced to Rwandan rhythmic traditions and learn the fundamentals of traditional movement styles.

Space is limited; pre-registration is recommended. Visit MMDG.org or contact Mark Morris Dance Center at 718.624.8400 for details.

When: Monday, May 27, 12:00pm

Where: Mark Morris Dance Center, 3 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217

How much: $12

DanceAfrica’s beloved bazaar returns, featuring more than 150 vendors from around the world, offering African, Caribbean, and African-American food, crafts and fashion. Photo credit: BAM

From Saturday, May 25 through Monday, May 27, DanceAfrica’s beloved bazaar will transform the streets surrounding BAM into a global, buzzing marketplace. Every year, the bazaar attracts an estimated 40,000 people from all five boroughs of New York and the tri-state area to experience more than 150 vendors from around the world, offering African, Caribbean and African-American food, crafts and fashion. The bazaar also features entertainment for families. Rain or shine – it will be there!

For a complete schedule of all events, go here.

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Andrea Leonhardt

“Made in Germany,” Andrea Leonhardt is the managing editor for BK Reader. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in American studies and education, and a master’s...

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