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Kulu Mele African Dance & Drum Ensemble performs BRAZIL & BEYOND, Oct. 22

by Michelle Tabnick
October 10, 2016
Kurtz Center for the Performing Arts William Penn Charter School
3000 W School House Lane
Philadelphia, PA 19144
Kulu Mele African Dance & Drum Ensemble has commissioned renowned Afro-Brazilian choreographer Dandha de Hora to create an all-new dance based on Afro-Brazilian dance and music traditions. Her work, “Our Roots,” will make its world-premiere as part of “Brazil & Beyond,” Kulu Mele’s 2016 annual home show, Saturday, October 22, 2016 at the Kurtz Center for the Performing Arts William Penn Charter School.

For 2016, Kulu Mele is moving its annual show to an all-new, larger venue (the Kurtz Center) by popular demand, after selling out its last two annual seasons.

“Our Roots” intertwines the stories of two powerful women, including Yansã, an African goddess and protectress of women; and Maria Bonita, an historical figure turned folk hero who fought for justice in colonial Brazil. “Our Roots” is one of five new dances from Mali, Guinea, the United States and more, including traditional West African dance and hip hop dances, which will premiere as part of “Brazil & Beyond.”

“Brazil & Beyond” is made possible in part thanks to generous support from the following current and recent funders: PECO, the Barra Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation, The Philadelphia Cultural Fund, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Sheila Fortune Foundation, the Henrietta Tower Wurts Memorial, the Samuel S. Fels Fund, Union Benevolent Association, The PHILO Project, the William Penn Foundation, the Orisha Community Development Corporation, the board of directors of Kulu Mele and many generous individual donors and volunteers.

About Kulu Mele

Inspired by the voices of its ancestors, Kulu Mele African Dance & Drum Ensemble preserves and presents the traditional dance and music of Africa and the African Diaspora, and celebrates contemporary African American culture. Kulu Mele’s performances attract highly diverse audiences. For African Americans, Kulu Mele provides an opportunity to connect to their cultures of origins. For others, Kulu Mele is a cross-cultural exploration. For all, Kulu Mele provides rich, entertaining and enlightening experiences at the highest levels of artistic excellence. Kulu Mele’s performances are family-friendly and appropriate for all ages.

Based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Kulu Mele has been a highly regarded cultural institution for nearly 50 years. Kulu Mele performs year-round throughout Philadelphia and tours nationally and internationally.

Kulu Mele’s extensive arts education program, Omo Kulu Mele, serves thousands of economically disadvantaged school children in Philadelphia annually.

Founded in 1969 by Baba Robert Crowder, Kulu Mele has been led by artistic director Dorothy Wilkie for more than 25 years. Kulu Mele has performed across the United States and internationally, including West Africa and Cuba. In May, 2015, Kulu Mele performed at the Frank Gehry-designed Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California. In June, 2015, Kulu Mele was the opening act for the Inside/Out Series at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival; and in September, 2015, Kulu Mele performed during the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families.

About Dandha da Hora

Born and raised in Salvador, Bahia, Dandha Da Hora is a highly accomplished dancer, choreographer and musician. As a lead dancer with Ilê Aiyê, one of Brazil’s most important musical and cultural institutions, and a musician/vocalist with SambaDá, a wildly popular San Francisco Bay area-based Brazilian band, Dandha has toured internationally and has shared the stage with many of Brazil’s most renowned artists, such as Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Daniela Mercury. Whether she is teaching, dancing, singing, or playing an instrument, Dandha’s art always reflects her passion for sharing Afro-Brazilian culture, and she brings a message of hope, love, equality and freedom every time she performs.

About Dorothy Wilkie

Dorothy Wilkie began to study African dance as a child in 1955, first as an art form and later as an aspect of her spiritual practice as an orisha devotee and initiate. She joined Kulu Mele as a dancer in 1974 and later became the company’s dance captain. She has served as artistic director for more than 25 years. She has studied dance with Les Ballets Africains in Guinea, the National Dance Company of Senegal, and in Cuba and the United States. She has performed with Chuck Davis and Grupo de Danza Nueva Generacion and has choreographed for Lantern Theater Company and the University of Pennsylvania, as well as for Kulu Mele. In 2007, she was awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. In 2015, she and her husband, John Wilkie, received lifetime achievement.

Kulu Mele presents “Brazil & Beyond” Saturday, October 22, 2016 • 3:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m. Kurtz Center for the Performing Arts William Penn Charter School 3000 W. School House Lane Philadelphia, PA 19144 $30 adults / $15 students with I.D. & children 17 & younger. Tickets at www.danceboxoffice.com/?page_id=789. Photos, videos & more information at www.kulumele.org.
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