Memorial Day weekend at BAM is almost a staple for me. It is the event that inspired me to take photos of Natural hair 20 years ago which turned into my photo book and exhibition BAD Hair uprooted. This year I went for the full experience. The theme was Ghana.
The Main Performance: A Journey Through Ghanaian Culture
The National Dance Company of Ghana, BAM Restoration Dance Youth Ensemble and The Dance Africa Spirit Walkers embraced the theme of Ghana, inviting attendees on a choreographic, sonic, and cinematic journey through the nation's past and present. Like the powerful symbol of the Sankofa, this immersive performance with live musicians from Arkestra Africa urged us to look back in order to move forward.
It was a beautiful exploration of Ghanaian culture, where vibrant rhythms, mesmerizing movements, and rich storytelling transported us to a world filled with beauty and tradition. The only drawback was the lack of amplification for the singers, which slightly diminished the overall experience.
The After Party
The after party was a lot of fun. Afrobeat teacher who goes by the Instagram handle Usher1baby took the lead teaching the party people a few Afrobeat moves.
Inspiring Personal Locs Journeys
The next day I went to do video interviews, asking people about their locs journey. Such great and inspiring personal stories of why people starting locs, what the hardest and the best parts are about growing locs. These will be shared in future blogs, on my tiktok, facebook and instagram, so stay tuned.
The Loc Journeys are now live. Click watch and read the Loc Journeys
Double Dutch jumping rope is a staple in Black communities all over America and it never gets old. From Rope skipping thousands of years ago in Egypt to the 1600's when the Dutch brought it to America, African Americans have elevated jump rope to incredible new heights.
It was phenomenal to see young and old alike participate in this traditional yet contemporary form of expression. The energy and enthusiasm surrounding jump rope were palpable, creating a sense of unity and community.
Food and Fashion
No celebration is complete without indulging in delectable food and vibrant fashion. From Jamaican Jerk chicken to Guyanese roties and vegan food, the plates represented African culture by way of the Caribbean. Everywhere you looked, there was a kaleidoscope of colors and patterns in the fashion on display, showcasing the creativity and cultural heritage of African-inspired designs.
Maroon Culture of French Guyana
On the final day, I was captivated by the dance group Ma Aiye from French Guyana. Their dances, garments called pangis, and captivating hairstyles echoed the spirit of the Maroon culture found in neighboring Suriname. The similarities between the two cultures were striking, highlighting the shared heritage and deep-rooted connections within the African diaspora. Did I mention that they delivered an awe-inspiring performances outside of the BAM theatre as well as on Time Square.
In conclusion, BAM Dance Africa 2023 was an unforgettable celebration of African, American, Caribbean culture and artistic expression. From the immersive performances that transported you to the heart of Ghanaian traditions to the vibrant after party and Double Dutch jump rope, the event radiated joy and unity. The insightful interviews on locs journeys and the fusion of delectable food and vibrant fashion all added to the richness of the experience. I wholeheartedly recommend BAM Dance Africa to anyone seeking a profound celebration of culture and artistry.