BAM Announces Details on DanceAfrica 2024

BAM Announces Details on DanceAfrica 2024

BAM announces details on its 2024 DanceAfrica festival, The Origin of Communities / A Calabash of Cultures, a dynamic celebration of the rich tapestry of African arts and culture, with a focus on the traditions and contemporary innovations of Cameroon, affectionately known as “Little Africa.” For its 47th year, DanceAfrica 2024 invites the community to experience a multi-faceted exploration of dance, music, film, and art.

Cameroon, often called “Little Africa,” is a vibrant mosaic of history, culture, and ecology. Home to the ancient Baka people and various indigenous groups, it boasts a rich blend of oral traditions and a deep connection to nature. From lush rainforests to vast savannas, its landscapes mirror Africa’s diversity. Linguistically rich in Baka, English, French, and other indigenous languages, Cameroon mirrors the continent’s cultural richness. At its heart is the calabash, symbolizing utility and artistry, deeply ingrained in daily life and expressive dance traditions. In dance, the calabash adds rhythmic sounds and dynamic movements, embodying Cameroon’s vibrant heritage and connecting with its roots.

The festival’s anchor performance, The Origin of Communities / A Calabash of Cultures, under the artistic vision of Abdel R. Salaam, welcomes the illustrious Cameroonian dance company, Cie La Calebasse, founded by acclaimed choreographer and dancer, Merlin Nyakam. Cie la Calebasse is renowned for its captivating performances that blend traditional African dance with contemporary flair. The company will present an array of traditional Cameroonian dances and music, showcasing pieces such as Mangambeu, Ambas-Bay, Bikutsi, and Bend Skin.

This performance fosters a unique collaboration with the DanceAfrica Spirit Walkers and The Billie’s Youth Arts Academy Dance Ensemble, enriched by the intricate sounds of the Women Of The Calabash, an ensemble known for their mesmerizing polyphonic sound created by playing calabashes of various sizes. Together, they showcase the diversity and creativity of Cameroon’s musical and dance traditions. The program is further distinguished by its homage to ancestral legacies through the memorial tribute to the ancestors and elders. A traditional libation ceremony on the steps of the Peter Jay Sharp Building precedes the Friday, May 24 performance, at approximately 6:30pm.

The artistic vision of the show is brought to life with lighting design by Al Crawford, music and sound design by David Margolin Lawson, costume designs by Wunmi Olaiya, and set design by Jasiri AU Kafele creating an immersive experience that celebrates the depth of Cameroonian culture. Tickets start at $25 and are available for purchase at

BAM’s longest-running program and the nation’s largest festival of African dance, ignites with a procession of community and cultural events across Brooklyn, engaging partnerships with key local institutions including The Billie Holiday Theatre (formerly Restoration Arts), Mark Morris Dance Center, Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservatory, Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA), and the African Film Festivalin Manhattan. This borough-wide engagement encapsulates the soul of Brooklyn, fostering a vibrant mosaic of interaction and celebration among its diverse communities.

The festivities extend beyond performance to include the DanceAfrica Bazaar, a bustling outdoor marketplace that transforms BAM’s corner of Fort Greene, Brooklyn into a nexus of African and diasporic creativity and commerce. Integral to the festival are engaging dance classes that open the floor to enthusiasts of all ages, fostering a hands-on appreciation for African dance traditions. This year, in partnership with MoCADA, DanceAfrica presents a visual arts installation featuring a newly commissioned work by Cameroonian artist Salifou Lindou, and a podcast live-listening experience that centers Cameroon’s journey to independence, adding a layer of contemporary African art to the festival’s diverse offerings. The cinematic companion FilmAfrica, curated by the African Film Festival, returns with a showcase of stories from across the continent, rounding out the celebration that extends beyond performance to embrace the full spectrum of African cultural expression and its diasporic connections.

This array of events transforms DanceAfrica into a vibrant celebration of African culture, fostering a space for learning, appreciation, and community engagement. For the complete DanceAfrica 2024 Festival line-up, to purchase tickets, and to register for free events visit

Cie La Calebasse Photo by Tony Turner