DanceAfrica 2015 honors founder Baba Chuck Davis

Zita Allen | 5/29/2015, 5:48 p.m.
DanceAfrica, the cultural cornucopia conceived and nurtured by Artistic Director Chuck Davis, has filled the Brooklyn Academy of Music with ...
Chuck Davis Jack Vartoogian photo

And what a life it has been. Born in 1937 in Raleigh, N.C., which he likes to call “North Cacalacki,” when segregation was alive and well, entered the dance world when giants walked the Earth—giants such as Katherine Dunham, Pearl Primus, Alvin Ailey, Talley Beatty, Geoffrey Holder, Eleo Pomare and Mary Hinkson. In 1967, when he formed his own company, things began to fall into place. Then came DanceAfrica festivals and its offshoots.

Some festivals were one-shot deals. Others, in cities such as Denver, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., have continued for decades. There have been challenges. Funding today, for example, isn’t what it used to be. “Not as many corporations are willing to support something like this today. It’s unfortunate because they need to understand that DanceAfrica is about more than just a dance performance,” Davis said.

In an era when places such as Ferguson and Baltimore highlight a socio-economic and political crisis similar to the one when DanceAfrica was born, Davis said, “DanceAfrica is necessary. It builds a sense of self-esteem, pride and empowerment while also teaching folks who we are and building cultural bridges. There are so many things to be shared through African culture.” Pausing, Davis added, “You know, I go through life attempting to do and be what the creator has placed me on this Earth to be.” DanceAfrica is a true testament to that. Ago!