Asase Yaa Cultural Arts Foundation Presents Kwanzaa Fest 2020: Rising in Principle
Asase Yaa Cultural Arts Foundation
Asase Yaa Cultural Arts Foundation in partnership with Weeksville Heritage Center presents Kwanzaa Fest 2020: Rising in Principle on Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 6pm, held virtually. This marks the second year of our holiday collaboration and we're eager to enliven your lives with a virtual festival!
Featured artists include Asase Yaa Youth Ensemble, Brooklyn United Marching Band, Forces of Nature Dance Theater, Immanuel Wilkins Trio, Malandela Zulu, Malika Lee Whitney, Oshun, and a fashion show by Harriets by Hekima. The festival will be emceed by Sharon Gordon. Presenters include Robin K. Sheares, Honorable Judge; Annette Robinson, Former New York State Assemblywoman, District 56; Robert E. Cornegy Jr, New York City Council Member, 36th District; Stefanie Zinnerman, Assemblywoman, 56th District; Kevin S. Parker, New York State Senator; Letitia James, New York State Attorney General; Yvette Clarke, Congresswoman, 9th Congressional District.
"We curated this year's Kwanzaa celebration to show how all 7 principles apply to every facet of the culturally and socially diverse communities that we serve. Our show represents and embodies the shared creative spirit of our elected officials, artists, seasonal fashions and hairstyles. We hope to inspire and reinforce how our self-determination, collective work and unity can sustain the faith we've used to survive for the last 400 years," said Osei Williams, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Asase Yaa.
The tradition of Kwanzaa began in 1966 and is based on the Nguzo Saba or seven principles: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-determination), Ujima (Collective work & responsibility), Ujaama (Cooperative economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba(Creativity), and Imani (Faith). Kwanzaa is celebrated after Christmas and until New Year's Day (December 26 - January 1). At Weeksville, we celebrate the tradition early to coincide with our December Weeksville Weekend, which takes place on the second Saturday of the month. Gather the family, some food, libations, and login on Saturday, December 12, 2020 from 6-8PM.
The seven principles of the Kwanza are designed to honor our African heritage, to give thanks for the ancestors and for our survival, and to uplift family, community, and spirit, ushering us into a new calendar year. This year's celebration is even more important for us to remember and observe our collective resilience after all the challenges that 2020 has presented us with. Our program will embody each principle in a virtual production, spotlighting local artists, community members, and public officials, showcasing the abundance in our community and Weeksville Heritage Center's long commitment in helping to strengthen it. Join us for our final Weeksville Weekend of the year because we are righteous, we are resilient, and we are rising! Learn more
ABOUT ASASE YAA CULTURAL ARTS FOUNDATION
Asase Yaa ("Mother Earth") began life as the vision of brothers Kofi Osei Williams and Yao Ababio. They pooled their from-childhood experiences, knowledge, community conscience and performance skills to start African dance and drumming workshops in the `90s that grew into thriving summer camps, art schools and spectacular concert performances with outreach to other like-minded dance companies. As the concept expanded, Kofi's future wife Rubie, first joined their dance troupe as a dancer, and later took on a series of administrative positions. They pulled in professionals from all over Africa and the Caribbean to Broadway to participate as educators and consultants to create an affordable program for children, adults, seniors and entire families to partake. Since its inception, they have been devoted to sharing the real cultural history of Africa and its rich arts culture. They are passing on the strong sense of pride they feel about their link to the great continent, and the abounding wisdom that has expanded their consciousness, self-worth, healthfulness, community ties and unity. Key to their teachings is that Africa is, contrary to how it is often portrayed in the media, not a monolith but a continent with a variety of singular expressions spread across its many countries and indigenous people. After starting the Asase Yaa African American Dance Theater in 2001, Asase Yaa had its first major concert "Africa: A Journey in Dance" on Saturday June 28, 2003 which featured three companies from New York (representing Guinea, Ghana and Senegal) and one from Washington D.C. (Ivory Coast & Guinea). This concert established Asase Yaa in the eyes of the public. So much so that parents wanted their children to study with them. From a first year of 6 kids in the new summer camp to 35 in the next, Asase Yaa eventually had to put a cap of 60 students on the camp which gave them a long waiting list. Then the company's coveted inclusion and participation in 2005's acclaimed Dance Africa program under the mentorship of Artistic Director Chuck Davis provided the finishing polishing on Asase Yaa's concept to make a bold move. An initial dream to renovate a Brooklyn brownstone into "The House That Dance Built" never came to fruition, but through further alliances, the Asase Yaa School of the Arts was unveiled in September 2011, incorporating modern, hip hop, ballet, tap and more all under one very soulful roof. "It's been a great mission," Executive Director Kofi Williams states. "If an arts group doesn't come into a school, most kids have no other way of receiving arts education. Many of the children that started with us in summer camp and then studied at our school have made strong achievements. One just graduated from Hunter College with a Theater degree. Two of our dancers are part of Block Entertainment which places dancers with major artists for full tours, fill-ins or an artist's major event. We have youth that started with us that never danced before now on tour with superstars such as Rihanna, Beyonce', Drake and Sean Paul. We are proud to have cultivated their talents and help them grow to a level where they can succeed in the performing arts. Plus, we are very well connected to the Alvin Ailey American Ballet, Dance Theater of Harlem and the Harlem School of the Arts. The Asase Yaa Foundation is proud to carry the torch for Brooklyn's long-standing history as a major hub of culture in New York - from visual arts, music and literature to dance. Being in Bedford-Stuyvesant especially places us in the realm of timeless legends from Lena Horne and Max Roach to Spike Lee to Biggie Smalls and Jay-Z." In addition to teaching African and African Diasporic Dance, Asase Yaa serves the community by teaching martial arts, musical instrument performance, musical theater and acting.
ABOUT WEEKSVILLE HERITAGE CENTER
Weeksville Heritage Center is an historic site and cultural center in Central Brooklyn that uses education, arts and a social justice lens to preserve, document and inspire engagement with the history of Weeksville, one of the largest free Black communities in pre-Civil War America, and the Historic Hunterfly Road Houses. Our vision is to be a leading authority and resource for the scholarship, exploration and dissemination of the history of Weeksville and other 19th-and early-20th century free Black communities, as well as the modern-day artistic, intellectual and social justice imperatives they exemplify and inspire. Our work will illuminate a pivotal aspect of Black history; empower our visitors with tools, training and education; celebrate and center Black culture, community and creativity; and spark dialogue and collaborations between local residents, artists, academics and activists that advance us towards a more just and equitable world. Weeksville remains 180 years after its founding because of the support of community supporters. Be a part of this rich history as a Weeksville Volunteer!
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