Dance Africa Festival Honors Don Cornelius and Donna Summer

The Dance Africa festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music this year honored Don Cornelius, a man that many of the students believe had a great amount of influence on African culture.

Rob Fields writes about black culture for a magazine called “Bold as Love” and he recalled how he used to tune in to “Soul Train” in order to see the latest fashion trends, hear the newest music, and get “hip” on some of the new dance moves. “Now is the perfect time to do a tribute to Don Cornelius and Dance Africa is the perfect place,” said Fields.

Don Cornelius wasn’t the only legend to be commemorated during the four-day festival. The festival also remembered the disco diva herself, Donna Summer, who passed away last week. Darrell McNeil, an associate producer for the Brooklyn Academy of Music, believed it was important to remember Mrs. Summer for her “contribution to African-American dance and popular music.” Not to mention, it made sense to feature Summer after her many appearances on Don Cornelius’s “Soul Train.”

From May 25th to the 28th the festivities included workshops, a film festival, authentic food, a crafts and clothing bazaar, an art exhibit, and much more. On Saturday, the festival hosted a tribute concert in honor of the late stars, but the real fun happened after the sun went down. Dance Africa threw a fun dance party, “Soul Train” style, in order to celebrate the iconic Cornelius.

The founder of the festival, Chuck Davis, was excited to get to introduce the public to a less “mystical” side of Africa. “I am encouraged every time I am asked – at this stage of the game, by many people, of all genders, races, and ages – if Africans wear shoes! Mercy!” Davis said. “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,” the 75-year-old choreographer added.

With the use of authentic costume, outstanding athletics, daring acrobatics, and perfect choreography, each of the 15 dance troupes gave an unforgettable performance in honor of African culture.

Back to top