The College at Brockport Department of Dance will present the Sankofa African Dance and Drum Ensemble on May 2-5 in the Hartwell Dance Theatre on Kenyon Street.
This year’s Sankofa concerts will feature drummer and choreographer Mohamed Diaby from Guinea, West Africa. For Sankofa, he has set a dance on Brockport’s dancers.
Diaby started playing the djembe at 7 years old under the supervision of his elder brother. By 15, he was asked to join a group sponsored by the wife of Guinea’s president. Encouraged to continue by djembefola Mamady Keita, Diaby joined Africa Djole. He later joined Les Merveilles de Guinea as lead drummer, touring all over West Africa.
Kieron Sargeant, another of Sankofa’s international guest artists, created “Caribbean Suite” for the concert. Sargeant describes the piece as a “combination of folk dances from various Caribbean countries that have both persevered and morphed through the years, be it due to the Atlantic slave trade, colonialism or even indigenous dances from the country.”
Trinidadian musician Ian Anthony will be on hand, “helping to mesh the arts of the islands with those of the African continent, forging an Afro-Caribbean celebration,” according to Jenise Akilah Anthony, artistic director of the Sankofa troupe.
Sankofa features musical direction by master drummer Khalid Abdul N’Faly Saleem.
“The word ‘Sankofa,’ loosely translated, means that you cannot go forward without looking back,” Anthony said. “None of us would be able to go forward in the world of African dance without recollecting our roots and history.”
Anthony said they would be unable to bring the Sankofa concerts to life “without paying tribute to the late, great Baba Chuck Davis, America’s foremost master of African dance. Amongst his other achievements, he founded the DanceAfrica Festival, which has been in existence for more than 40 years.”
In addition to premiering a new work, “Sorsonet,” Anthony will revive “Sinte” for the finale.
Performances will run at 7:30 p.m. on May 2-4 and 2 p.m. on May 5. Tickets cost $17 for general admission; $12 for seniors, and Brockport alumni, faculty and staff; and $9 for students.
Unsold tickets will be available at the Hartwell Box Office one hour before each performance. The department is offering $5 tickets for a community preview at 7:30 p.m. on May 1.
For information, call (585) 395-2787, visit bit.ly/2IuARLA or stop by the Tower Fine Arts Center, 180 Holley St., Brockport.