Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium was awash in color, rhythm, and light during the Dance Institute of Washington’s annual concert dedicated to the observance of Kwanzaa. This is a Dance Institute tradition begun in 1995 by its late founder, Fabian Barnes.
Consider making attendance at the Dance Institute’s annual Kwanzaa celebration your tradition too.
A holiday rooted in African harvest rituals, the Kwanzaa celebration began with a piece titled “Fruits of Labor,” choreographed by Dance Institute Creative Director, Ashante Green, and performed with grace and elegance. Other notable pieces included a powerful rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a joyous “I Can,” choreographed by Tyler Ross, that filled the stage with talented and determined young people, and a stirring “November,” featuring the music of Max Richter and choreography by Justin Bellamy.
Guest performers Versatile Soundz & Drummers filled the hall with the rhythmic power of traditional African drumming in a piece titled “Come Together,” and artists from the Taratibu Youth Association. performed a spirited “Noyana” (Are You Going? in the Xhosa language). An uplifting “Soulistic,” also choreographed by Ashante Green, closed the show.
The stage was framed by Kente cloth of varying patterns and colors and featured a kinara (candleholder) holding seven candles in the colors green, red, and black representing unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith—the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Activist Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa more than 50 years ago to celebrate African American culture. Since that time, the holiday has spread beyond U.S. borders to find a home in the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, and Canada, among others.
The Dance Institute of Washington continues to fulfill its mission to diversify the dance industry, make dance education accessible to all, and nurture the talent and ambition of Washington DC’s young people. Consider making attendance at the Dance Institute’s annual Kwanzaa celebration your tradition too.
“The Spirit of Kwanzaa” ran December 16 and 17, 2022 at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium, 2455 6th Street, NW, 20059. For more information about the Dance Institute of Washington, click here.