Kùlú Mèlé African Dance & Drum Ensemble celebrates its 51st year

Philadelphia’s iconic Kùlú Mèlé African Dance & Drum Ensemble is observing its 51st anniversary with a virtual celebration of dance and drumming from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 28.

The celebration includes dance and drum classes and vintage performances that will uplift and heal your spirit.

“We celebrate our anniversary in November of each year,” explained Kùlú Mèlé’s Artistic Director Dorothy “Mama Dottie”Wilkie. “Last year, we celebrated our 50th anniversary with the world premiere of ‘Ogun & the People,’ at the Annenberg Center. This year we had to be innovative with our approach to the annual celebration. We’re blessed to be here celebrating 51 years with a day of virtual activities the entire family can enjoy.”

• Children’s West African Dance Class, 10 a.m.-10:45 a.m., taught by Alakee Bethea-Fairchild, instructor of Omo Kùlú Mèlé (ages 5-18), the group’s children’s ensemble.

• Hip Hop Dance Class, 11 a.m.-11:45 a.m., with Kùlú Mèlé member Yusuf Young.

• West African Djembe Drum Class, noon-to 12:45 p.m., with ethnomusicologist Ira Bond, one of the lead percussionists for Kùlú Mèlé and founder of Malidelphia.

• West African Dance Class, 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m., explore the Madan style of Mali with well-respected dance instructor Cachet Ivey, a member of Kùlú Mèlé and an adjunct professor of dance at the University of Pennsylvania.

• Orisha Dance Class, 4 p.m.-5:30 p.m., learn dances to Elegua, Orisha of the crossroads, and Yemaya, Mother of the World, with Kùlú Mèlé dance captain Ama Schley.

• Substance!, 7 p.m.-8 p.m., enjoy some of Kùlú Mèlé’s most dynamic West African, Afro-Cuban, hip hop and jazz performances from the archives.

• Live After-Party Celebration, 8 p.m., Chill, get ya dance on and continue the celebration with Kùlú Mèlé and Beats People Motion djs.

“This virtual celebration is a new way for us to step out into the new world, the way it is now, and a way for more people to get to know Kùlú Mèlé,” said Wilkie. “We are now stepping into having online classes. As they say, the show must go on.”

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