African cultural arts

  • ”How To Cry @ an African Funeral”

This comedy was written by Mambo Tse and available for student performances.  The play examines stereotypes and helps students understand the different rituals associated with celebrating life.  It can also help students and audience members deal with grief.  

The play is an arts-in-Education Piece that incorporates dance, theatre arts, visual arts, stage design, costume design and choreography.

Presented as a workshop in a residency format, this program brings along some of the most world-renown teaching artist who help students rewrite the play to suit them, create authentic African costumes & visual arts & crafts from recycled materials taught by a National Endowment for the Arts sponsored artist, as well as original music under a doctorate candidate in musicologist.

This comedic, dance, docudrama requires a minimum of 3 days a week for an 18-week residency and a minimum of 20 students participating.  Ideal for High Schools

Fulfils THE BLUEPRINTS FOR THE ARTS AS SET BY US DEPT OF EDUCATION. Students can receive credit toward graduation. All Teachers are fingerprinted by the NYC Dept of Education

  1. Folktakes from Brooklyn

Participants will have access to 10 African Folktales Book set that they will use as a base to write their own stories.  Folktales are stories passed down through generations mainly by word of mouth. They include tall tales, trickster tales, myths, legends & fairy tales.  They often take on the characteristics of the time and place in which they are told and are meant as tools to impart some moral advice. Our goal with this project is to read excerpts from other folktales and come up with one that is from the school community.  Participants will write a script, create drum and dance sequences that will enhance the narration and act it out in front of the community and its stakeholders. This is an 18-week residency project. We have done a similar project like this under the Cinderella Project and also with Romeo & Juliet.  Some participants opted to use puppets as opposed to acting out the characters themselves. Great for students looking for goal-based alternative activities that encourage socialization and leisure skills. Students in transition or students who have been disenfranchised by the school system or seeking to reenter society.  Ideal for Middle & High Schools.

FULFILS THE BLUEPRINTS FOR THE ARTS AS SET BY US DEPT OF EDUCATION. Students can receive credit toward graduation. All Teachers are fingerprinted by the NYC Dept of Education

  1. “Things Fall Apart”

Students will work in small groups to write a screenplay of Things Fall Apart, A book by Chinua Achebe and with the assistance of the teacher, create choreography to aid in the delivery of the play.  Students need no previous experience with African dance training, but it would be useful for them to have explored the use of level, directional, and rhythmic changes to create

dance phrases that have multiple dimensions. The project is a 36-week residency that includes a performance in a professional theatre and includes a study on Spatial design concepts for the stage. This unit will also broaden students’ perspectives on other cultures through a cultural/historical and kinesthetic experience and so create understanding and acceptance of differences amongst peoples of the world. The essential questions:

  1. What is the relationship between music and dance in Nigerian dance culture? 
  2. How does modern Nigerian dance evolve in America? 
  3. How is personal space used in learning and performing on stage?
  4. What is the correlation between movement on stage and movement off stage
  5. How does spatial design influence how the audience perceives a performance? 
  6. How does Nigerian dance in a cultural setting differ when danced in a theatrical performance setting? 

This unit is ideal for High School students. 

FULFILS THE BLUEPRINTS FOR THE ARTS AS SET BY US DEPT OF EDUCATION. Students can receive credit toward graduation. All Teachers are fingerprinted by the NYC Dept of Education

  •  Ndebele
In the 18th century, the Ndzundza Ndebele people of South Africa created their own tradition and style of house painting. Until the late 1900s, the Ndebele people were very fierce warriors and large landowners. In the autumn of 1883, they went to war with the neighbouring Boer workers. The loss of the war brought on a harsh life and horrible punishments for the Ndebele. Through those hard times, expressive symbols were generated by the suffering people expressing their grief. These symbols were the beginning of the African art known as Ndebele house paintings. This is an 18-week workshop program and the kids will need a wall that they can actually use to paint.  This particular project is ideal for when there has been a trauma within the school or as a way to unite the school. Students are given adinkra symbols that they can identify with and can work in groups or solo.       
  •  Adinkra
  Adinkra is visual symbols, originally created by the Gyaaman people of Bono, that represent concepts or expressions of a general truth, principle, or astute observation, and drawn in a memorable form (either carved, painted or attached to everyday items.)  The symbols have a decorative function but also represent objects that encapsulate evocative messages that convey traditional wisdom, aspects of life or the environment. With this workshop, we seek to get students acquainted with the symbols and their meanings by giving them erasers that they can use to carve out the symbols that can then be used to imprint on a piece of cloth or a T-shirt.  This residency can last a year depending on the school’s needs.    
  •  Totem Poles
  When people talk about Totem poles, they only think of Native American cultures and never really ascribe it to African traditions.  Totem poles are spread across the world from Asia to Arabia, Africa and all across first nations in the Americas. A totem is a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, lineage, or Ethnic group. Nt’eh is what the people of Bamenda, particularly Alahnkyi call it.  Students will be encouraged to build one for their school using recycled materials from newspapers to bottle caps and wood pieces and will construct it together as a group.  This project is particularly great for students who have a hard time making friends and can be used to improve their social skills. The project is an 18-week residency.
Ekombi Dance from Nigeria taught by Perfecta Ekpo Central African Dance taught by Mafor Mambo Tse Djembe Drum Classes supervised by Sanga of the Valley West African Dance Class taught by Lamine Thiam Afrofuturistic Theater by Aixa