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Festival Brings Drumming, Dancing to Tulane
The summer heat is making it increasingly difficult to stay active, but The 15th Annual New Orleans Dance Festival is giving locals a chance to work out indoors. The fest is taking over Tulane campus next week, Monday July 1st through Friday July 5th. Sponsored by the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, events are open to the public, with one drumming class and one dance class being taught daily in room 300 of McWilliams Hall at a cost of $10 each.
The dance class will be taught by native Haitian folkloric dancer and choreographer, Menahem Laurent, while the drumming class will be taught by master Haitian drummer Damas “Fan Fan” Louis. The drumming classes will be held from 5:45 pm to 6:45 pm, Monday through Wednesday with early classes starting at 9:45 am on Thursday and Friday and going until 10:45 am. The dance classes will be from 7 pm to 8:30 pm Monday through Wednesday, and from 11am to 12:30pm on Thursday and Friday.
Other collaborators for this event include the Tekrema Center for Arts and Culture, the Ashé Cultural Arts Center, Luther Gray of Bamboola 2000 and adjunct dance faculty member at Tulane, Ausettua Jackson.
Festival Director and Tulane dance professor, Beverly Trask, says the purpose of this event is to “highlight the importance and significance of the African heritage in New Orleans.” She further stated that dancers here in New Orleans have expressed a great interest in learning and studying particularly the Haitian influences that so dominate New Orleans culture, “and this gives them that opportunity as well as also to the city as a whole.”
The Maafa Commemoration on Saturday July 6 at Congo Square is happening in conjunction with this event. According to the Ashe Cultural Center’s webpage, MAAFA is a Kiswahili word that means "great tragedy" or "horrific tragedy," referring to the period of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The word comes from Dr. Marimba Ani, African-American scholar and author.
“Maafa is a celebration of ancestry and the spirit of slaves,” says Trask in a release. “It will be a wonderful event for participants to experience."
The Center sites he MAAFA Commemoration as an opportunity for the whole community to pause and reflect on the horrors of slavery, and to agree as a community to distance ourselves institutionally in word and deed from that transgression. This commemoration will also include drummers and musicians as well as a procession. Participants are encouraged to wear all white.
For more information on the Dance Festivals classes or events please contact Beverly Trask at 504-812-4553.
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