08 August 2006

african drums and dance

The Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia is a wonderful outdoor venue for various summer musical events. And each summer, part of what the Mann does is sponsor a free series of Young People's Concerts for city kids, whether attending with parents, grandparents, or as part of summer day camp programs.

This year Laurel and Claire made it to the Shangri-la Chinese acrobats and I was able to join them for a Caribbean steel drum band (along with a demonstration of capoiera, a Brazilian dance-like martial art) and yesterday for a concert of African dancing and drums.

The African concert was particularly fun, featuring dancing and drumming from West Africa presented by Camden, New Jersey's Universal African Dance & Drum Ensemble. The performers included adults and children of every age, down to toddlers. The dancers certainly knew how to let loose and have a good time. If, however, the concert and dance were representative of West African culture (and I suspect they were), the value placed upon celebration and children is poignant given how HIV/AIDS has ravaged much of Africa, a source of much sorrow and leaving many children without their adult relatives.