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Dance & Drum festival

Three-day celebration to include kids’ expo, bazaar and concert

D. Kevin McNeir | 8/8/2013, 3:09 p.m.
With workshops led by some of the top drummers and dancers from West Africa, the Caribbean and the U.S., a ...

With workshops led by some of the top drummers and dancers from West Africa, the Caribbean and the U.S., a health symposium, a global bazaar and a children’s village, the 4th Annual African Diaspora Dance & Drum Festival of Florida will return to Miami this weekend, August 2 - 4, at the Little Haiti Cultural Center [NE 59th Terrace]. The culmination of the Festival, whose theme is “Bridging Cultural Gaps,” will be a concert extravaganza on Saturday evening. Other highlights will include the presentation of the 2013 Cultural Community Outreach Award to Essie “Big Mama” Reed — a fixture in South Florida who has dedicated her life to helping many of the “village’s less fortunate children.”

Christel Moore serves as the program committee chairperson and is also a dancer for the ensemble. She says interest in the Festival has continued to grow since its inception.

“Feedback each year has been great — so much so that this year we have over 30 workshops — some aimed at adults, others geared towards children,” she said. “Our community needs help in improving its health and we’re convinced that one can both eat better and use dance to live a more healthy life. We will also have a presentation that speaks to rites of passage programs with the hope that we can eventually begin such a program here in Little Haiti."

The drum is considered to be one of the oldest musical instruments in the world with every society utilizing it in various degrees. However, it is most revered among the people of Africa, where it is has always played a prominent role in the continent’s history. Drums are used as part of religious and societal ceremonies including weddings, ancestral contact, healing, birth/fertility and entertainment with hundreds of different kinds of drums used by the various tribes of Africa.

“The drum is so essential because it helps to preserve our African heritage — it continues to influence people about the African community and the Diaspora,” Moore said. “Our classes at the Festival will showcase and educate the public on the richness of the tradition of our African heritage through the drum, dance and music.”

Local drummers will include: Tradisyon Lakou Laky, Inc, a Haitian group of storytellers, dancers and singers; Venus Rising, an interracial group that features dance forms from the Caribbean, Africa and modern styles; and Natambu and the Nuclear Word Head Poets and the Instrumental Players, a West Palm beach-based group that uses poetry, dance and various hand instruments.

The Festival’s main sponsor is Delou Africa, Inc., with additional support from HOT 105, the Miami-Dade County [M-DC] Board of Commissioners, the City of Miami Parks and Recreation; the M-DC Department of Cultural Affairs, Recreate and Move; and D’Kultural Development Foundation. For more information go to www.DelouAfrica.org.