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Monday, May 15, 2017

Baba Chuck Davis, In Memoriam

With the passing of Baba Chuck Davis this past weekend, we lost one brilliant star—no, supernova—from the sky. Thousands and thousands of audience members knew Baba Chuck as the artistic director and founder of DanceAfrica, which began in 1977. With great flair, he hosted each year’s performances until his retirement in 2015, returning to assist his successor, Abdel R. Salaam, at last year’s shows. “Ago, amée!” was his signature call-and-response, a participatory gesture which was perennially peppered throughout the performances.

We who had the fortune of working with Baba Chuck over the 40 years of DanceAfrica festivals will miss his tremendous energy, which at times really did feel like our own sun. We’ll miss his heartwarming bear hugs and his unmatched generosity of spirit, and the unending amount of work he put into every detail of DanceAfrica. We pay tribute to the countless hours he spent teaching, choreographing, and rehearsing the BAM/Restoration Youth Dance Ensemble and the visiting companies, as well as the highly popular master classes he led each year.

Between DanceAfrica festivals (which grew to include other cities), Baba Chuck traveled the world—primarily throughout Africa but also to African diasporic locations such as Peru and Cuba—seeking out indigenous dance companies to bring to BAM’s stage. A multitude of American and New York-based troupes also participated, including Abdel R. Salaam’s company, Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, which has performed at BAM nine times. Baba Chuck was responsible for an unimaginable amount of cultural exchange, which was stealthily educational while being awesomely celebratory. He was beloved, but he also taught discipline, tradition, and respect not only for the Elders, but for all of humanity.

A shadow passes over our collective heart with the loss of Baba Chuck, but we honor the ways he changed each and every life he touched.

Ago, amée, Baba Chuck.

—Susan Yung, senior editorial manager at BAM


  1. My DANCE AFRICA GRANDFATHER, KING DR. BABA CHARLES "CHUCK" DAVIS IS WITH THE ANCESTORS. My heart is heavy as I cry and laugh about my great times with him. He said I "entered this earthly realm dancing to the rhythm of the drum". He taught my Mother the Art of African Dance and he taught me too.
    COLBY CHRISTINA - Actress, TV TALK SHOW HOST - "Colby's Corner", Dancer, Singer, Model, Choreographer, Motivational Speaker, Advocate, AUDELCO - "Rising Star" Award Recipient & the Restoration Center for Arts & Culture Student Ambassador.
    #colbychristina #teamcolbychristina #colbyscorner #colbyscorner #danceafrica #babachuck #peace #love #respect

  2. From God we come and to Him we return. Rest in power Baba Chuck.

  3. Charles "Chuck"Davis known affectionately Baba Chuck was and still is one of the most powerful men of our time. When I met Baba in the 80's he and Baba Melvin Deal were the two men that introduced me to the African Dance community...that was in 1981. My love and continued study of this craft...this language...this 'blackness' from the lens of post transatlantic slave trade set me into motion literally and figuratively--teaching,performing,traveling, spreading the news,redefining the power of DANCE! Baba Chuck we were supposed to meet next moth in Durham, I will be there looking for you and I am sure you will be there. Go softly onto that rivier where many other of our great ancestors await you. REST IN I know you will.
    With great respect and love I bow to you!!!!!!!!
    Nia Love and family

  4. Chuck Davis I will always love you, you changed my delinquent life when I was a teenager. We came in the class to disrupt but we soon found out, you wasn't having it. You straightened me out Brother, You enriched my life. I learned to stick to it, don't give up, perseverance, I fought with myself in those dance classes and realized I could do it. And that spirit is still with me today.. YOU LIVE IN All YOUR STUDENTS.Peace and blessings

  5. This was amazing. Thank you so much for live streaming this memorial. The dancers were beautiful and it was a very lovely send-off, especially the joyful freestyle dancing at the end. Such a fortunate life to have touched so many and made such a difference.


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