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A Must See

Apollo Kwanzaa Celebration: Regeneration Night

After the 1965 riots in Los Angeles devastated Watts, Dr. Maulana Karenga searched for ways to bring Blacks together. The following year, he created a week-long celebration, from December 26 through January 1, that honors African heritage in Black culture. Kwanzaa, derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili, is celebrated with songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and culminates in a feast and gift-giving. Part of the Kwanzaa tradition in New York is an annual Kwanzaa celebration at the historic Apollo Theatre.

This year’s event, Kwanzaa Celebration: Regeneration Night, will feature New York-based dance company Abdel Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre with special guests Raul Midón and Foday Musa Suso. The night of dance and music will be held on December 27 at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm and will be hosted by WBLS radio personality Imhotep Gary Byrd.

Forces of Nature was founded in 1981 by Executive Artistic Director/Choreographer Abdel R. Salaam and Executive Managing Director Olabamidele Husbands. The company has produced professional ballets, conducted dance classes and presented concerts and educational programs throughout the U.S. and abroad. Forces of Nature utilizes a “unique blend of performing arts, which includes contemporary modern dance, traditional West African dance, ballet, house and hip-hop forms, as well as live and recorded music and the martial arts.”

Midón, who has been blind since birth, is a singer-songwriter and guitarist from New Mexico who is known for his distinctive voice. He has collaborated with several artists including Herbie Hancock and Stevie Wonder, along with contributing to recordings by Jason Mraz, Queen Latifah, Snoop Dogg and the soundtrack to Spike Lee’s film, “She Hate Me.”

Suso is an internationally recognized musician, composer, and griot from the Mandinka ethnic group in Gambia. Griots are oral historians and a living library for the community, providing history, entertainment, and wisdom while playing and singing their songs.

With an entertaining night of dance, music, and African storytelling, the Apollo Theatre is definitely living up to the celebration of African values that Dr. Karenga set forth when he founded Kwanzaa.

Tickets for the Apollo Kwanzaa celebration can be purchased here.

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