Maya J. Berry, Ph.D. (Social anthropologist specializing in performance studies, and African diaspora studies). As a dance educator, Dance Africa Fest is a special moment to join forces with other diasporic dance communities that may operate in isolation throughout the year. It's a much needed platform to showcase the beauty and uniqueness of African diasporic arts, while also reinforcing the common threads that remind us of our connection. The positive energy produced is palpable and lasts well beyond the festival itself. I still get messages from students , from Austin and beyond, saying how they were impacted by their participation in my class at the festival. It's truly gratifying to be part of a greater mission that is already making an important difference in the cultural landscape of Austin.
Esoterica Davis(Body-care artist). A Grand Display Of Dance, Drumming, Unity, & Expression. From the very first time that I saw them dance, until now, I quietly cry in awe from the connection this display of culture, union and powerful energy which touches me to the core with each drum's beat, step of the foot, and clap of the hand. Dance Africa Fest makes you want to live vibrantly while remembering what you never knew about your history.
Wen Nguyen - I felt immersed and rejuvenated during and after the dance class I attended which was instructed by amazing an professional dancers. There was also live drumming by talented musicians during the class. I appreciated the gathering of community to engage and connect through cultural experiences. It was wonderful to meet and support the creative designers and businesses developed by people of color who live in Austin. I look forward to this year's Dance Africa Fest.
Krysta Gonzales (Voiceover Artist. Actress. Writer).As a black woman in Austin - a city where the black population is decreasing as the rest of the population is rising quickly - Dance Africa Fest was extremely meaningful to me. Not only was the event a showcase of black excellence, but it was truly a community event. Dance Africa Fest was not merely about celebrating, but sharing as well. It was exciting to learn about all the diasporic performance organizations and artists within Austin and to see such a diverse audience come together and be fully engaged. Aside from the cultural and sociological affirmations, the performers and artists were truly exceptional and I was blown away that this was the festival’s first year. With such a strong start, I can only imagine how the event will continue to grown and shine - and ultimately touch and unify more people.
Alfonso Alarcón Sandoval(Dancer, Afro Cuban dance instructor). What did DAF mean to me? It meant supporting the preservation of culture and arts. It meant supporting my community. It meant honoring ancestral traditions while encouraging the community to find their own ancestry. Many of us share similar backgrounds and at the same time have our own distinct roots. I believe it's important for us to know where we come from to better understand ourselves and our relationship with nature and other cultures. DAF is a homage to our roots through beautiful arts.
Anu Naimpally(Dancer, choreographer, Artistic Director at Austin Dance India).The festival was really important for a number of reasons. It filled a void in terms of a performances representing the African diaspora. We do see some Afro inspired musical acts and festivals but never dance. Also, apart from the under representation of this ethnic community, it also filled a gap where there is really no dance festival here in town--- of any kind! So to see such diverse dances within a festival format is awesome!
Danita Nelson(Ruling Elder at Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.). The festival offers an opportunity to experience, explore, and engage music and movement of the African diaspora -- right here at home! The artists and teachers are all expert-level, they make the learning accessible and enjoyable for all participants.
Tiffany F. Skelton (Artisan, former Sergeant first class retired at U.S. Army). What can I say about Dance Africa Fest!!! It’s the main reason I come to Austin and branch off from that. I love the exposure to the different artists who have a love for culture the same and meet in the same circles. What Tonya does is nothing short of inspirational and celebratory and I will continue to be a frequent visitor.
Dance Africa Fest PO Box 685285 Austin, TX 78768 USA