Better Family Life is shouting an energetic roll call to attend BLACK DANCE – USA: A Celebration in Movement. All professional dancers, choreographers, dance enthusiasts, dance students, musicians, educational institutions, arts and cultural institutions and anyone else who loves to work that body are welcome to attend.
Now in its 34th year, guests will have the opportunity to join dancers from around the country for the region’s longest running dance festival of its kind, held right here in St. Louis at the Better Family Life Cultural, Educational and Business Center, 5415 Page Blvd. Traditionally held during the Memorial Day weekend, this year the festival will be held April 3-6. The new dates will accommodate those who enjoy other annual cultural events offered in May, as well as ensure that all dance enthusiasts – including area students – have the opportunity to attend.
BLACK DANCE-USA was created for participants to expand their knowledge base and skill set for dance styles rooted in the African and African Diaspora traditions.
“I wanted people to understand that dance that originates from Africa and the African Diaspora is alive, vibrant and has purpose, legitimacy and value,” said Deborah Ahmed, senior vice president of Cultural Affairs at Better Family Life and the founder of Black Dance USA. “If people want to study these dance styles, they should have a broad range of dance styles to choose from.”
BLACK DANCE-USA provides the dance community access to master instructors who train in rich cultural African traditions and artistry, who are committed to passing this culture on to succeeding generations.
Financial support for BLACK DANCE-USA is provided by the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, Kranzberg Family Charitable Foundation and the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis.
Dance workshops will be offered in Traditional West African, Afro Cuban Folklore, Cuban Salsa, Dance, African Caribbean, Yoga, African Swing, and hip-hop.
This year’s festival will culminate with a concert featuring St. Louis’ phenomenal home grown artists including Better Family Life’s Kuumba Youth Performance Ensemble (KYPE), Afriky Lolo and Best Dance Center at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 6 at the historic Sun Theatre in Grand Center. Dance class participants will receive discounted tickets to the concert. To practice the 7th principle of Kwanzaa (UJAMAA – Cooperative Economics) and provide a cultural shopping experience, BLACK DANCE-USA is sponsoring the Essences of Earth Marketplace. Guests will have the opportunity to shop throughout the week with vendors that will provide unique handcrafted merchandise inspired by the rich ancestral cultures of Africa.
“We treasure our ability to support dedicated choreographers and dancers and bring authentic African dance and culture to St. Louis year after year through concerts and classes,” Ahmed said.
“We need to use our art to educate, to liberate – to tell stories about where we are and where we came from.”
The 34th Annual BLACK DANCE-USA will take place April 3 through April 6 at Better Family Life Cultural, Educational and Business Center, 5415 Page Blvd. Individual scholarships are available to participants on a first-come first-serve basis for full and partial registrants only (not available for single classes.) and prospective scholarship applicants must be at least 18 years old to apply. To register for classes, apply for scholarships, and to purchase your concert tickets, please go to http://www.betterfamilylife.org/black-dance-usa.html. Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/betterfamilylife.org/.