The Sankofa African Dance and Drum Ensemble will present its annual series of concerts under the auspices of the Department of Dance at The College at Brockport on Thursday – Saturday, April 27 – 29, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. There will also be a matinee performance on Sunday, April 30, at 2 p.m.
All performances, under the artistic direction of Sarah Zehnder and the musical direction of Khalid Abdul N’Faly Saleem, take place in Hartwell Dance Theater, Kenyon Street, Brockport.
Tickets are $17/General, $12/Seniors, Alumni, Faculty and Staff, and $9/Students. They are available online at fineartstix.brockport.edu, by phone at (585) 395-2787, or at the Tower Fine Arts Center Box Office, 180 Holley Street, Brockport.
The Sankofa concerts often sell out prior to the first performance taking place. If that is not the case, any unsold tickets will be available for purchase at the Hartwell Box Office one hour prior to each performance.
Saleem and Zehnder have planned a dynamic and powerful program, taking a deeper look at tradition and its global influence in current trends. Saleem, along with Sankofa musicians, will perform live music arranged by guest artist M’Bemba Bangoura, featuring traditional Guinean rhythms, “Makru,” “Sofa,” and “Sinte.”
The musicians will also accompany a premiere by Zehnder, whose works represent her desire to educate audiences about what Sankofa really means as we “look to the past with the hope of building a better future. How can we respect and maintain traditions, but ignore how they have influenced our present and continue to influence our future?” Her works include “Kpanlogo,” a traditional Ghanaian dance that is currently in danger of being lost among its youth, and “Where You From,” a Hip-hop work showcasing movement and cultural influences that have molded this genre, set to the DJ stylings of New York City artist Charlie Stelton.
An additional highlight of the concerts will be a premiere from guest artist Bangoura, who began drumming at a very young age in his native Guinea, West Africa, and is one of the foremost ambassadors for Guinean drum and dance. By the age of 21, Bangoura was an acclaimed and accomplished drummer playing for Ballet Djoliba, the national ensemble of Guinea. Since moving to the United States in 1992, he has choreographed and developed repertoire for dozens of dance companies in New York City and abroad. His new work, “Being One with the Drum,” takes the audience on a journey in tradition, music, culture and community.
Melinda Blythe Phillips and Niema Neteri Atkins, both Rochester-based artists and alumnae of The College at Brockport, founded their own company, Ba Bes Dance, following graduation. Both young mothers at the time, they embraced the artistic freedom as a chance to empower and educate. They are both actively involved in teaching, advocating for, and cultivating the dance community.
Phillips has taught workshops locally and abroad to children, adults and colleagues at various colleges and more than 20 local schools. Atkins has written and implemented curricula for the Rochester City School District’s Department of Arts, performed as artist-in-residence in numerous schools and universities, and has worked with Young Audiences of Rochester and Kuumba Consultants to implement quality arts programs to K-12 audiences in upstate New York. Both Atkins and Phillips are excited to present the premiere of their collaboration, “rEvolution,” using dance as activism, incorporating various styles and influences including house and reggae.
This year’s student choreographers include Isaiah Harris, Tatiana Amaye-Obu, Grace Lopata-Linn, Will Dillard-Jackson, Brianna Smith and Carissa Bishop. Sankofa will exhibit beautiful and colorful costumes designed by Emma Scholl and elaborate lighting design from Benoit Beauchamp.