BaoBao Festival keeps traditions alive
The BaoBao Festival continues to preserve West African traditions in dance, song and storytelling in its fifth year.
The Boulder Theater was filled with resonating stomps and singing as audience members entered the theater on March 8.
The dance group from 1000 Voices performed before the show as well as during its intermission. Dressed in street wear, the members blended with the audience as they danced in the center of the venue.
The first performance of the night demonstrated the influence of traditional African dances on recent dance styles. The Street Side Dancers showcased their break dancing skills and hip-hop dance style by spinning on their heads and holding difficult contorted positions for the audience’s enjoyment.
“Fire and Water,” an interpretive dance by DeAndre Carroll and Mimi Jorling, used fluid movements to imitate the elements. The heavy shoulder rolling and spinning moves used were reminiscent of the capoeira style of dancing.
Dressed in a red tulle dress and covered in black greasepaint, Onye Ozuzu slowly entered the stage for the piece “Sambo’s Sister,” which incorporated poetry, dance and drumming to portray the struggles of a woman of mixed race.
Ozuzu’s movements were fierce and powerful. She jolted herself around the stage in mimed agony, fear and confusion. Children standing in the front row leapt back as she neared their part of the stage.
The narrative during the dance spoke of relationships, family and moving.
“To be free is to be able to leave everything behind and to not look back to say, ‘Yes,'” said Ozuzu’s narrator, who read Ozuzu’s poetry as she danced.
A colorful procession followed which starkly contrasted the previous performance. The Pan African Group danced and drummed in West African traditions. Xylophone and drums accompanied dancers in brightly patterned costumes as they leaped and twisted around stage.
The second half of the show focused on the storytelling tradition. “Ayelevi and the Thief of Dreams,” the tale of a girl whose dreams are the last hope for the survival of her village, was told by Santemu Aakhu, Reina Luisa Ross, and David Cofie.
“Oh, it is a beautiful thing to be able to dream,” Aakhu said at the beginning of the piece.
Throughout the story, the Pan African Group danced and played their instruments in a more narrative style. Playful fighting scenes and romantic endeavors were acted through energetic dancing and exaggerated gestures.
The story was a cautionary tale to children that taught them not only to keep their dreams alive, but also to respect their elders, help those in need and even to eat their vegetables. Children were brought on stage to participate, and older members joined later on to dance.
Charlie Sounds finished off the night with a dynamic singing performance. Backed by a band of drums, saxophone, trumpet and bass, Sounds urged the audience to celebrate, jubilate and to shake their bodies.
Audience members said they enjoyed the high energy of the show and the cultural spectrum it covered.
“You get to see authentic dancing, and you get to see the modern evolution of dance with the traditional preservation intact,” said Robert Hensley, 54, a West African drum enthusiast in the audience.
Contact Campus Press Staff Reporter Carolyn Michaels at Carolyn.email@example.com.