Philadelphia’s premier African dance company, Kùlú Mèlé African Dance and Drum Ensemble returns to the Painted Bride Art Center on Thanksgiving weekend for two inspiring shows. Sacred Journeys, a celebration of faith and the human spirit, will feature new and revised selections from the company’s impressive repertoire of Afro-Cuban and West African sacred dance. Shows are scheduled for Saturday, November 26, 7PM and Sunday, November 27, 4PM. The Painted Bride is located at 230 Vine Street in Philadelphia.
“Each dance in Sacred Journeys tells a story that anyone can relate to,” according to Kùlú Mèlé Artistic Director Dorothy Wilkie. “We start with Elegba, which honors the divine prankster who opens the pathways to all of life’s possibilities. Next is Palo, which is a classic story of the struggle between good and evil; Babalu-Aye, which is about a community whose faith enables it to triumph over adversity; and we close with Bao, which celebrates a girl’s passage into adulthood. In between, there is the heartbeat…the sacred drum, which carries us from one story to the next.”
“The first three dances are in the Yoruba tradition from Nigeria by way of Cuba and Bao is from Guinea,” Ms. Wilkie continued. “I fell in love with traditional Yoruba dance many years ago when I studied with Enrique Admiral, a Cuban exile, who was a master dancer and drummer. I hope audiences will be transported and uplifted by the beauty and energy of the dances as I was then.”
Founded in 1969 by Robert Crowder and guided by Dorothy Wilkie for more than 20 years, Kùlú Mèlé is known for infusing traditional African dance with urban American flair. The company regularly studies with master artists from West African and Afro-Cuban traditions and has graced stages from New York to Guinea and throughout the African Diaspora, distinguishing itself with beautiful costumes, a thrilling percussion battery and dynamic choreography. Kùlú Mèlé’s outreach and arts education programs include its longstanding children’s ensemble, Omo Kùlú Mèlé (the children of Kùlú Mèlé), the Omo Kùlú Mèlé Afterschool program, residencies, and in-school performances and workshops.
General admission to Sacred Journeys is $20 in advance/$25 at the door; children 12 and younger: $12 in advance/$15 at the door. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 215 844-3409.
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