Beat of the Drum

This year, the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre will celebrate forty years of existence — which makes it the perfect time for the annual DanceAfrica nationwide cultural celebration to hit Denver. “DanceAfrica originated in Brooklyn,” explains the Cleo Parker’s Mary Hart, “but this is the first time it’s been done here in Denver.

“It’s really a celebration of African culture using dance, spoken word, food, crafts — all kinds of stuff.” Quite the celebration — and one that will take two full weekends to explore.

Legendary artistic director Charles Davis is overseeing DanceAfrica 2011: Cultural Connections — Honoring Our African Legacy, which will feature the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble presenting Divinities, plus performers from Kissi Dugu and Farafina Kan, this weekend; next weekend, you’ll see the ensemble perform Know Thyself, and experience Illstyle and Peace, a multicultural, multi-disciplinary company that creates work blending traditional African dance with urban hip-hop.

Admission to the two weekends of dance — which will also include workshops, an art exhibition and a cultural bazaar — is $38 for adults, or $33 if you can’t decide which program to attend and want to hit both weekends.

“This is not just for the African community, or the African-American community,” notes Hart. “This is for everybody. Come celebrate with food, drumming and dance!”

DanceAfrica opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. and continues through Sunday, May 1, before picking up again next Friday, May 6, and continuing through Sunday, May 8. Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre is at 119 Park Avenue West; for information and tickets, call 303-295-1759 or visit www.cleoparkerdance.org.
April 29-30, 7:30 p.m.; May 6-8, 2011

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Amber Taufen has been writing about people, places and things in Denver since 2005. She works as an editor, writer, and production and process guru out of her home office in the foothills.
Contact: Amber Taufen