Kwanzaa 2018 – Dance diversity and creativity at Queensborough Community College
QCC Kwanzaa Celebration
Wow! With everything that’s been going on in my schedule, I can’t believe that I didin’t blog about the QCC Kwanzaa Celebration. Held on December 9th, 2018, the QCC Kwanzaa Celebration was a big time bucket list event for me. I’ve always wanted to put together my own production and this would be my first one after being in the performing arts community for so many years.
Being a member of the Queensborough Community Colleges Dance Program’s staff, it has always been a part of the plan to create opportunities for our students to perform for the fall semester. I remember sitting down with the program director Emily Berry to discuss how we can move things forward and what the budget for this event should look like.
In my mind, Kwanzaa has always been about celebrating the larger concept of community. It was important for me to have my students from QCC exposed to my larger dance community here in New York and vice-versa. As I grow another year in my role as an advisor and mentor to younger aspiring artists, the QCC Kwanzaa celebration provided a platform to bring many different aspects of my dance world together for one signature event.
2018 was an amazing year filled with many different challenges. One of the more dynamic of those challenges was my work with Sesame Flyers International. In the span of three months, we got an amazing group of young people together to perform in what will go down as one of the most amazing experiences in my life. Then there was my trip to Uganda with my dancers from Gloria Eve. We pulled that project off with a lot of support from the community and through sheer will power, but in the end, it was all worth it to see the amazing growth my students went through during that project.
The need to create on a more personal level was given to me after the death of my father and the Kofago Dance Ensemble was re-born after that experience. The growth that I’ve seen in my dancers has been truly awe inspiring. Although its my goal to teach them everything I know within the African Diasporic arts, they teach me something new every single time we come together at rehearsal.
It’s with all of these separate experiences and moments within 2018 that I wanted to drawn upon to create an experience that was steeped in the notion of community, laying down a foundation of what could hopefully become an annual event for the QCC Dance Program.
This would be the first time that I put together an entire production. The experience alone was an amazing one, but I can honestly say that I truly appreciate every single artist who joined us on that stage. Thank you to Persephone Dacosta the founder and artistic director to the Batingua Arts Ensemble, based in Brooklyn, New York. You support means the world to me. Let’s continue to build up these young people and continue to create opportunities for them to do what they love to do and that’s dance! Thank you Mesha Millington, the founder and executive director of the Gloria Eve School of the Performing Arts for allowing the students from the pre-professional program to perform. They are simply AMAZING, but I’m pretty sure you already knew this! Thank you to my good friend Tara Spivey for taking the lead on getting the young people from the Nu Gamma Psi Step Squad ready for the stage. They killed it (my QCC Students are STILL talking about their performance)! Thank you to my musical director Kwesi N’kroma, who came in and handled the live drumming for several different numbers within the show. Special thanks to Danny Hinds, a D’jembefola who was in town all the way from Trinidad and Tobago. THANK YOU for blessing our stage with you musical talents! Know that this will not be the last time that we work together!
Thank you to Emily Berry, Aviva Gesimar and the rest of the QCC Dance Program staff. Thank you Dr. Andrea Salis, Chairperson of the Health, Psychical Education and Dance Department. Finally, thank you to all of you that came to support our efforts. I remain committed to creating opportunities for our young people to perform and grow as artists. your continued support of our efforts is something that I will never take for granted!