Kevin McEwen – Choreographer/Artistic Director, Kofago Dance Ensemble

Dive into the mesmerizing world of dance with our latest feature on the 2024 Arts Council Individual Choreography Fellows! The 2024 NJ State Council on the Arts Choreographers’ Showcase is set to dazzle audiences with the dynamic and diverse artistic visions of 14 incredibly talented choreographers.

Selected every two years, these choreographers represent the epitome of artistic excellence, chosen by an independent peer panel solely based on the quality of their work. And guess what? They’re bringing their A-game to the SOPAC stage, infusing it with the beauty and athleticism of dance that’ll leave you spellbound! 🎉🎶

But wait, there’s more! Did you know that these talented artists can receive up to $32,000 to further their artistic goals? Talk about a game-changer for the arts scene!

This program is made possible by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, in collaboration with the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. Visit the Mid Atlantic Arts website to learn more about the Individual Artist Fellowship program and discover how you can support the arts in your community!

Kofago Dance Ensemble

Mark your calendars, because you won’t want to miss “Moving Into the Future: New Jersey Choreographers’ Festival,” a co-sponsored project of SOPAC and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. It’s going to be an unforgettable celebration of dance and artistry!

But that’s not all! We’re thrilled to announce that Kevin McEwen will be featuring his poignant choreographic work, “Remembrance,” on Thursday, April 4th at 7pm. This moving tribute honors loved ones who have passed away, blending the emotional depth of loss with the rich traditions of African dance.

Get ready to be transported on a journey through grief, memory, and celebration as McEwen and his talented dancers grace the stage with their powerful performance!  Don’t miss out – mark your calendars and join us for an evening filled with dance, emotion, and inspiration!

Kwanzaa Celebration 2022This holiday season marks an exciting milestone for the Kwanzaa Celebration – it is the fifth anniversary since its inception! This performance, produced and directed by Kevin McEwen, has grown into a memorable tradition in New York City over the past five years.

The production was made possible through the collaboration of many organizations and talented individuals. Queensborough Community College, Rhythm N Dance, The Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning and the Kofago Dance Ensemble all worked together to make this event one of a kind.

The show featured African Diasproic dance forms such as Sabar dance from Senegal, Hip-Hop, Modern and Afrobeats. It also included a live drum call led by D’Jembefola Jean Lemke Charlot and Master of Ceremony duties by 1Pablo (Paul Lee) who spoke to the audience about Kwanzaa’s cultural significance.

Kwanzaa Celebration has become a staple in our community, celebrating African Diasporic culture in the beginning of December each year. This year, we had two shows which seemed like the natural evolution of the work we’ve done for the past five years.

Batingua Arts Youth Ensemble

On December 9th, 2022, the first annual Kwanzaa Celebration Youth Performance kicked off with a bang, featuring some of the best performing arts groups in the area.

The Phoenix Dance Ensemble from First University Prep in Brooklyn put on an incredible show with their signature choreography by their director, Afaliah Tribune. The Sesame Flyers International Youth Dance Ensemble (under the direction of Acharo Smith and Vuyelwa Thom) from Brooklyn brought their mix of Caribbean rhythms and creative movements to the stage. The Batingua Arts Youth Ensemble, directed by Persephone Dacosta showcased dazzling African and Caribbean dance moves. Infinity Blueprint (directed by Tanasia McCorey) from Long Island provided a much-needed dose of soulful Hip-Hop choreography. And last but certainly not least, the A.R.E.A Collective from Harlem delivered an electrifying performance full of Hip-Hop beats and melodies.

Infinity Blueprint

It was truly a sight to behold! Not only did these talented young artists show off their skills, but they also demonstrated how powerful art can be when it brings diverse communities together for a shared purpose. As we celebrate this inaugural Kwanzaa Celebration Youth Performance, let us continue to support our young performers as they strive to reach their highest potentials!

The second show on Sunday, December 11th, was our signature show celebrating our fifth anniversary of our production. Featuring talented dancers from Kofago Dance Ensemble, Queensborough Community College Dance Program, REACH Collective and the Kwanzaa Celebration cast, this performance was truly an occasion to remember!

Every moment of the two hour long show was nothing short of remarkable. From Bakary Fall’s powerful traditional Sabar dances

Sabar Suite

to Tanasia McCorrey’s innovative hip hop numbers and Mama Taylor’s captivating Lengen routines, each piece brought its own unique flavor to the mix. Even Aicha Konaté’s Afrobeats choreography with the QCC Dance program managed to evoke emotions in all who experienced it.

From my position as the producer and director of the show, it was clear that each choreographer took great care in crafting their pieces for this special event – from artistic vision to technical execution. The entire performance flowed seamlessly from start to finish, providing an exciting show full of energy and passion.

This year’s Kwanzaa Celebration 2022 was both an inspiring cultural display and a world-class performance – an unforgettable experience that will linger in our memories for years to come!

2022 is here! We’re are now two years in with having to deal with a pandemic that has truly changed the way we all live and interact with each other. COVID has taken a lot out of me, as it would many people. COVID is so much more than just a virus. COVID has crushed the notion of freedom to connect and commune with others in many ways, especially within dance communities. I am not sure where we go from here.

For four years straight, I produce and direct a production entitled the Kwanzaa Celebration. On Saturday December 11th, Kofago Dance Ensemble, the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning and Queensborough Community College presented Kwanzaa Celebration 2021: The Legacy Continues. Honoring the fifty-two year long tradition of Kwanzaa, Kofago Dance Ensemble and Queensborough Community College pulled together a performance that pays homage to this beautiful holiday. we even got coverage of our event from Channel 2, CBS News, which was truly appreciated. After everything was done, I couldn’t wait to take a much needed vacation to clear my mind and take a break from what was a truly strenuous year.

Unfortunately, that never happened. The Omicron variant had other plans. Flights were cancelled due to people getting sick in such large numbers. Lines for COVID testing were now hours long instead of the walk-ins we were used to just some weeks ago. Everything started to trend in the wrong direction.

COVID has truly taken so much from us. It seems that every day we lose something else; our sense of normalcy, our freedom to congregate and celebrate as we please, and sometimes even our lives.

I am tired. I hope that 2022 will bring some healing and a better outlook on the future but who knows what COVID will take from us next.

My hope is that my local community gets more proactive about delaing with this pandemic. There’s way too many people out here who are not vaccinated. I’m literally seeing people in my community lose their lives to this virus. Knowinfg that they could’ve been vaccinated and they chose not to is very concerning. In anideal situation, I would love for COVID to take a break and let me enjoy travelling again, but the pandemic seems to have other plans for now. I just have to accept it and keep going on with my life as best as I can until COVID decides that maybe 2022 is the year we all get our lives back.


Kwanzaa Reflection