Danceafrica Performance Webpage
“DanceAfrica is a family reunion, a chance to see how the branches of the family tree have extended.”
—The New York Times
May 26—May 29, 2023
DanceAfrica Performance 2023
Dance | Music


Artistic Director Abdel R. Salaam


“This festival heals, pumps up, and moves one to tears.”—Dance Enthusiast

This Memorial Day weekend, the vibrant artistry and revolutionary history of Ghana inspires an immersive, electrifying celebration of dance. Now in its 46th year, DanceAfrica presents a choreographic and musical journey through the past and present of Ghanaian culture, connecting ancestral traditions to contemporary achievements on the BAM stage. Featuring performances by the National Theater of Ghana's National Dance Company, the DanceAfrica Spirit Walkers, Arkestra Africa with Musical Director K. Osei Williams featuring Afropop vocalist Amma Whatt and BAM Restoration Dance Youth Ensemble, this year’s tribute to Ghanaian excellence promises to entertain, educate, and empower.

All performances will adhere to protocols developed in accordance with New York State regulations and in consultation with medical professionals for the safety of our artists, audiences, and staff.
Ghana Company
National Theater of Ghana’s National Dance Company
The National Dance Company of Ghana was established at the University of Ghana in 1962 by Albert Mawere Opoku, who also served as the inaugural artistic director. Opoku’s arrangements of traditional dances remain the core repertoire of the ensemble. Francis Nii Yartey succeeded Opoku for 30 years, creating extended works that explored the polyvalence of African performance. Currently under the leadership of Stephany Ursula Yamoah, the Ensemble presents indigenous and contemporary dance forms as well as dance-theater productions.
Abdel R. Salaam
Abdel R. Salaam is the Artistic Director of DanceAfrica; the Executive Artistic Director/Co-Founder of Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, founded in 1981; and a critically acclaimed choreographer. Born in Harlem, he has served as a dancer, teacher, and performing artist in five continents throughout his 55-year career in the dance and theater worlds. He has received numerous awards and fellowships for excellence in dance and dance-theater and continues to dedicate his life’s work to the healing and empowerment of us all.
BAM Restoration Dance Youth Ensemble
This DanceAfrica favorite returns to the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House for the 26th year. The ensemble serves as a symbol of youth involvement in the preservation of African heritage, celebrating both ancestral roots and the modern-day community.
Spirit Walkers
DanceAfrica Spirit Walkers
The DanceAfrica Spirit Walkers were founded by Baba Abdel R. Salaam in 2016 to theatrically honor the ancestors of Africa and its diaspora through the annual DanceAfrica Memorial Tribute, originally developed by the late Baba Chuck Davis. The group comprises professional dance artists and musicians from the Restoration alumni and Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, melding African vernacular forms, modern, hip-hop, and contemporary dance.
Arkestra Africa
To reflect contemporary Ghana, part of the production will take the form of a vibrant club scene, including Ghanaian and Nigerian highlife music performed by Arkestra Africa, a 10-piece ensemble led by musical director K. Osei Williams and featuring Afropop vocalist Amma Whatt.