Sankofa concerts going virtual May 1

A dancer jumps for joy in anticipation of this year’s Sankofa African Dance and Drum Ensemble concerts, streaming May 1-22.

The Sankofa African Dance and Drum Ensemble will premiere its annual concert virtually at 7:30 p.m. May 1. The video will be available on-demand through May 22. 

This year’s concert will feature Ballet Merveilles de Guinée as guest artists. The Guinea-based company is committed to preserving and sharing Guinean tradition through performance. 

“This year’s concert is titled ‘Guinea Fare,’” Sankofa’s artistic director Jenise Anthony said. “Some people have used the pandemic as a time to withdraw, but we are maximizing the opportunity to extend our reach to international borders. The guest performance is offered to us in its rawest, most authentic form with the recording having taken place in Guinea. You can almost imagine yourself being there in person.”

Anthony added that aspects of the process include “rehearsing with all the safety restrictions in place — mask-wearing, social distancing, frequent cleaning, etc. Protocols meant a change of performance space and masks that match the costumes; however, through it all, as an ensemble, we found new meanings to the words and ideals of community, support and unity.”

The Sankofa company will appear in the first half of the concert, with the second half turned over to the guest artists. Anthony will premiere a new dance, “Soko,” and restage her “Sorsornet.” Mouminatou Camara’s work “Sofa” also will be included in this production. 

“The traditional invitation to join us on stage during the finale is not possible, but we still invite the viewers to join in the celebration of dance and music that we are presenting,” Anthony said. “The joy and excitement would be encouraged with virtual participation in Sankofa's final dance piece.”

Patrons can visit purchase tickets and receive the link. Tickets are $10 for general audiences and $5 for students. Donations will be accepted at the ticketing site. Call 585-395-2787 for information.