Penn Museum Presents “African Dance!”
A Showcase of African and African-Influenced Dance Performances
As Part of Ongoing Imagine Africa with the Penn Museum Gallery Project
PHILADELPHIA, PA—A diverse gathering of local dance performers lights up the stage Wednesday, April 25 at 6:00 pm with African Dance! This evening of African and African-influenced steps and moves features hip-hop dance by Rennie Harris RHAW, tap and percussive dance by Germaine Ingram and Bobby Zankel, West African dance by the Cachet Ivey Performing Arts Collective, and the Umfundalai technique of Kariamu & Company: Traditions. The event is curated by Terri Shockley, Executive Director of the Community Education Center, and is presented in conjunction with the ongoing Imagine Africa with the Penn Museum gallery project. Entry is free with Museum admission donation: $12, adults; $10, seniors (65 and above); $8, children (6-17) and full-time students with ID; free for children under 6.
Germaine Ingram and Bobby Zankel perform a segment from their ongoing project The Spirits Break to Freedom, which reflects on slavery in the President’s House in Philadelphia under George Washington. Two dancers join four live musicians to present this series of pieces, with tap and percussive dance accompanied by original music, and vocals by Germaine Ingram.
The program features the Pan-African techniques of Kariamu & Company: Traditions, a company led by Dr. Kariamu Welsh, a professor of dance at Temple University. This company utilizes Dr. Welsh’s own Umfundalai technique, which draws upon key movement principles, aesthetics, and cultural traditions from the African Diaspora.
Rennie Harris RHAW, the Next Generation company for Rennie Harris Puremovement, brings a vibrant show to the stage—nine dancers, between 18 and 22 years old, perform two original dance pieces that feature eclectic hip-hop styles. The company demonstrates the dazzling arts of B-boying and B-girling to the tune of classic recordings by Bobby Womack and George Benson.
Then, the Cachet Ivey Performing Arts Collective offers up a more traditional performance, demonstrating “Bao,” a native dance of the Toma people of Guinea, West Africa. This piece, featuring 10 dancers and four live musicians playing native African instruments, is typically included in the initiation process of young Guinean girls. The troupe will even choose members from the audience to come on stage and join in the fun.
“These local artists are each at different stages in their careers, but they all bring outstanding performances,” says Terri Shockley, curator of the event, who noted the diversity of the evening’s lineup. “You won’t likely get another chance to see these artists together on a shared bill. It just doesn’t happen!”
Guests can explore the Imagine Africa with the Penn Museum gallery project before and after the performance. Through a variety of engagement opportunities, visitors are asked to provide feedback on the objects and content they see, and to discuss what would make an engaging exhibition—from their point of view. Imagine Africa with the Penn Museum is made possible with funding from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage through the Heritage Philadelphia Program, and the PoGo Family Foundation.
Penn Museum is located at 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (on Penn's campus, across from Franklin Field). Public transportation to the Museum is available via SEPTA's Regional Rail Line at University City Station; the Market-Frankford Subway Line at 34th Street Station; trolley routes 11, 13, 34, and 36; and bus routes 12, 21, 30, 40, and 42. Museum hours are Tuesday and Thursday through Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and Wednesday, 10:00 am to 8:00 pm, with P.M. @ PENN MUSEUM evening programs offered select Wednesdays. Closed Mondays and holidays. Admission donation is $12 for adults; $10 for senior citizens (65 and above); $8 children (6 to 17) and full-time students with ID; free to Members, PennCard holders, and children 5 and younger; "pay-what-you-want" the last hour before closing. Hot and cold meals and light refreshments are offered to visitors with or without Museum admission in The Pepper Mill Café; the Museum Shop and Pyramid Shop for Children offer a wide selection of gifts, books, games, clothing and jewelry. Penn Museum can be found on the web at www.penn.museum. For general information call 215.898.4000. For group tour information call 215.746.8183.
Photo captions (from top): Rennie Harris RHAW demonstrates B-boying and B-girling at "African Dance!" on Wednesday, April 25 at Penn Museum (photo by Brian Mengini); Kariamu & Company: Traditions utilizes Dr. Kariamu Welsh’s own Umfundalai dance technique at "African Dance!" on Wednesday, April 25 at Penn Museum (photo courtesy Kariamu Welsh); Cachet Ivey performs traditional West African dance at "African Dance!" on Wednesday, April 25 at Penn Museum (photo courtesy Cachet Ivey).