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Dallas Black Dance Theatre Goes Virtual For DanceAfrica Festival

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This is the 15th year for Dallas Black Dance Theatre to present its annual DanceAfrica Festival but this year, the family event will be virtual.

Melissa Young, artistic director for DBDT, says the festival still offers guests the opportunity to learn about the richness of African tradition.

“A lot of people don’t know about African tradition and you know, I didn’t know much about African tradition, from the continent, until I joined Dallas Black Dance Theatre. . . African tradition is all about honoring your elders because you stand on their shoulders. That’s the reason why we’re all here as this generation. So that’s something that’s very unique. . . It’s like we wouldn’t be who we are without our elders in the community. So I think that’s super special.”

Photo by Amitava Sarkar.

The festival takes place on Saturday, Oct. 10, and will be hosted by Bob Alijah Hasan and Young. One advantage of doing the festival virtually is all of the dance performances have a bigger stage. They were all filmed outdoors with the Dallas Arts District as a backdrop.

Feature performances include all of DBDT’s companies: Dallas Black Dance Theatre, DBDT: Encore!, and all the academy ensembles; The Dells Lady Astor Companies; special guest Bandan Koro African Drum & Dance Ensemble; and the DeSoto High School Acapella Choir. Making a repeat appearance is the Washington-based professional stepping company, Step Afrika!

Step Afrika! Photo by Sekou Luke.

The annual outdoor Marketplace and Festival has moved online as well.  The DanceAfrica Virtual Market Place will be open Oct. 1-31. The vendors that used to have booths lined up at the Annette Strauss Square, will now have a virtual booth on DBDT’s website. Visitors will be able to connect to the vendors’  websites directly from DBDT’s website.

Want to try your hand, and feet, at African dances? Bandan Koro and DBDT and Encore dancers will conduct a free session on Friday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m., via Zoom.

Photo by Amitava Sarkar.

Director’s Choice will be DBDT’s next virtual performance. The Nov. 7 show will feature two works, one a fan favorite and one a world premiere.

Young describes Bodies as Site of Faith and Protest, as powerful and thoughtful, a modern-day civil rights work. Although it was choreographed in 2016 it feels very fitting during this time of Black Lives Matter and social injustice protesting.

The second piece is a new work by Joshua L. Peugh, artistic director of Dark Circles Contemporary Dance. Peugh created it based on his conversations with the dancers talking about their perspective on being a part of Dallas Black Dance Theatre. Young said this piece is minimalistic, introspective and beautiful.

Got a tip? Email Gila Espinoza at gespinoza@kera.org. You can follow her on Twitter @espinoza_kera.

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