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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How Many Dashikis Does Baba Chuck Davis Have, and more...

Baba Chuck Davis. Photo: Julieta Cervantes
2012 is a big year for DanceAfrica, BAM's longest running series. It celebrates 35 years, and its founder and artistic director, Baba Chuck Davis, turned 75! Here, Davis answers a few questions, including one pertaining to being the perennial "best-dressed" at DanceAfrica.

Q: Congratulations on your 35th DanceAfrica, BAM's longest running series. What inspires you to keep the festival going?

Baba Chuck Davis: I am inspired to continue DanceAfrica every time I read or hear of the negative images associated with any of the countries on the continent. I am also encouraged each time I visit a different country and witness how many students are eager to learn about cultures other than their own, and the role dance and music has in the preservation of same. I am encouraged every time I am asked—at this stage of the game, by many people, of all genders/races/ages—if Africans wear shoes!!! Mercy.

Q: How do you find new companies from Africa and the diaspora?

CD: Once a theme has been selected, I strive to prepare a program that will please our supporters. I look for areas in Africa which have not been given much attention.

Q: What cities is DanceAfrica in now, and are there plans to expand it even more?

CD: DanceAfrica is now in: New York; Dallas; Pittsburgh; Denver; Washington, DC; Atlanta. It has been in: Philadelphia; Chicago; Red Bank, NJ; Minneapolis; New Haven; Los Angeles. It is slated for a return to Los Angeles and Chicago, and to have premieres in Durham, NC, and some countries in Africa as well as, when politically possible... Cuba.

My goal is to have a DanceAfrica festival somewhere on this planet twice a month. Uh huh.

Q: How many dashikis do you have by now?

CD: At this present time Mr. Daniel “Oko” Deheer, the tailor who designs and makes my traditional regalia, has graced me with 40 complete ensembles; 30 mini ensembles; many pants and many tops. This year, 2012, for the anniversary, he has designed three ultra fabulous ensembles which are breathtaking… even if i say so myself.

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