Celebration of African arts

BAM’s 34th DanceAfrica festival during Memorial Day weekend packed dance, music, film, art, and community events from Africa and the diaspora into a celebration of African arts.

The summery weather was perfect for a family outing when thousands immersed themselves in the foods and other expressions of Africa as they meandered along Ashland Street, the street that runs next to the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Stalls of food, instruments, African art and sculptures, baskets, clothing and fabrics, and booths of individual designers, hats, jewelry and natural cosmetics beckoned. Many children tested out the drums.

Additionally, Lafayette Street in front of BAM was blocked to traffic and a crowd gathered at Shop Talk and Art Gallery to listen to the DJ. Drummers drifted toward the music, a trumpeter joined in and before you knew it, an organic happening was at foot…parents and children alike chilling out or better yet, dancing in the streets. The ‘hood was allowed to continue the merrymaking until 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Memorial Day, when the space reverted to function as a street.

This year, cultural institutions across the city are celebrating Cuban culture and art and BAM’s DanceAfrica presented Santiago de Cuba-based Ballet Folklórico Cutumba, masters of the island’s vibrant Afro-Cuban and Haitian popular styles as part of DanceAfrica.

Also on the weekend program were the sultry rhythms of Cuban gaga and song with Cutumba, Kùlú Mèlé African Dance and Drum Ensemble, Bambara Drum and Dance Ensemble, and Brooklyn’s very own BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble.