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DanceAfrica Brings Cameroon to Brooklyn

Summer Fridays

A guide to enjoying the best of the city every weekend.

Credit…Brooklyn Academy of Music

DanceAfrica Brings Cameroon to Brooklyn

By James Barron

Good morning. It’s Friday. Today, and on Fridays through the summer, we’ll focus on things to do in New York over the weekend.

It’s a tradition: Every year, DanceAfrica at the Brooklyn Academy of Music focuses on a different country and its dance traditions.

When Abdel Salaam, the festival’s artistic director, was casting about for a country to spotlight this year, he realized that his many trips to Africa had never taken him to Cameroon.

He booked his tickets and was mesmerized — and not just by the dancers he saw and met. He called the trip “a life-changing encounter,” despite muddy roads and fire ants along the way.

And so Cameroon became the focus for the DanceAfrica Festival 2024, the nation’s largest festival of African dance — and, BAM likes to say, Brooklyn’s unofficial start to summer. Performances, under the overall title of “The Origin of Communities: A Calabash of Cultures,” begin tonight at 7:30 p.m. and continue through the weekend.

The festival is an exploration of Central African history, as symbolized by the calabash — a vessel with both mystical and practical significance in African culture. There will also be classes and dance workshops starting tomorrow. FilmAfrica, a companion festival, will include a conversation with the director Jean-Pierre Dikongué-Pipa on Saturday at 2 p.m. His film “Muna Moto” was credited with bringing Cameroonian cinema to global audience in the 1970s.

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