Muntu Dance Theatre, Chicago’s preeminent African dance company, will revive the treasured DanceAfrica festival. Announced Friday, DanceAfrica is a multi-disciplinary celebration of African and African diasporic dance, film, visual art, crafts, spoken word and more, falling within Muntu’s 50th anniversary season in 2022. The company—one of the longest-running African dance ensembles in the nation (behind Milwaukee’s Ko-thi Dance)—will host the month-long festival in Fall 2022, with additional community events held throughout the year.
Founded in 1977 by Baba Chuck Davis, DanceAfrica is a staple at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, with satellite festivals held annually in Washington, D.C., Miami and Dallas. DanceAfrica first came to Chicago in 1991, presented by the Dance Center of Columbia College. Columbia dropped the hugely successful program in 2005, noting its drain on the college’s resources. The DuSable Museum resuscitated the series three years later with a one-night-only performance at the Harris Theater. The revival didn’t last more than a couple years, however, and DanceAfrica has not been seen in Chicago in over a decade.
“We are pulling out all the stops for the return of DanceAfrica to Chicago and our 50th birthday,” said Muntu Dance artistic director Regina Perry-Car in a statement. “I am so excited to partner with the amazing artists of this city to showcase our community’s talent and welcome artists from around the world to create and celebrate with us all year long.”
Specific programming and partnerships are yet to be announced. Working with Ahsek Innovation (a consultancy firm led by Kesha Pate, who was formerly executive director of Chicago Dancers United), Muntu plans to convene a traditional DanceAfrica Council of Elders and line-up of local and international artists, with all programs and community engagement initiatives focused on equitable access, collaborative partnerships and welcoming spaces.
“We are ecstatic to be a part of this project,” said Pate in a statement. “This is such an exciting opportunity for Chicago and we’re honored to be stewards of the process to ensure all of the wonderful things these artists dream up can come true and be enjoyed by everyone.”
Visit danceafricachicago.org to sign up for email announcements and connect with DanceAfrica Chicago’s social media accounts.