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the artists center – Celebrating Everyone's Creativity

3500 Lancaster Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19104-4916
215.387.1911 :::

The Community Education Center is a nonprofit performing arts center and artists incubator space. The Center is known and respected by artists and audiences alike for its support of the local arts community and its presentations of outstanding dance and performance. The Center also offers the community opportunities to explore their creativity through classes in the performing arts as well as performance opportunities.


We are working to put together DanceAfrica Philadelphia 2016.

We will need your support to make it the best it can be.

Please sign up for our newsletter and we’ll keep you informed about DAP and other CEC programs and events.

You can see details of DAP 2013 below…

DanceAfrica Philadelphia (DAP!)

Our African Legacy: Treasured Reflections

November 6-9, 2013

Main Stage Dance Concerts, November 8-9, 7:30pm,

Drexel Main Building, 3141 Chestnut Street

Hosted by  Baba Chuck Davis
Artistic Director and Founder of the National DanceAfrica Festival

Sponsored by the James S. Knight Foundation and Dougherty Electric, Inc.

The Community Education Center in partnership with Drexel University proudly present our first DanceAfrica Philadelphia!  The City of Philadelphia welcomes Baba Chuck, founder of the nation’s longest running and greatly respected DanceAfrica. Philadelphia is the sixth major city to present the renowned festival of African dance, culture, and community building. The City of Philadelphia honors Baba Chuck with the presentation of a special Philadelphia citation as part of  Friday’s performance.   For a brief history of DanceAfrica and more on Baba Chuck.

DAP! brings the excitement of expertly performed dance and promotes the preservation of African dance and culture. It provides opportunities for lifelong learning and fortifies our communities with a sense of pride. As Baba Chuck likes to say – spreading “Peace, Love, and Respect for Everybody!”

For our first DanceAfrica Philadelphia (DAP!), Our African Legacy: Treasured Reflections, the festival will speak to the value of the heritage of peoples of African descent and the importance of African dance and drumming to African American/American culture. DAP! will present four outstanding African American dance companies whose works range from traditional to contemporary dance. The four companies are: Kùlú Mèlé African Dance and Drum Ensemble (Phila.), Illstyle and Peace Productions (Phila.), Kariamu and Co.: Traditions (Phila), and special guest Farafina Kan (DC).  The concert is presented on Friday and Saturday, November 8-9, 7:30pm at the Drexel Main Auditorium in the Drexel Main Building located at 3141 Chestnut Street.   

Dance Concert Tickets are $10 for children 15 and under, $15 students and seniors, $25 general admission

For TICKETS to the DANCE PERFORMANCES, November 8-9, Drexel Main Building 3141 Chestnut Street

A GROUP RATE is available for 10 or more at $20 general admission (reg price $25);  call the CEC at 215 387-1911, or email to arrange for payment.

Additionally, there will be a school-aged children’s performance sponsored by PECO on Friday, November 8, 11:30 also at the Drexel Main Auditorium.  Teachers interested in bringing  a group, please call the CEC, 215 387-1911 or email for details.

DAP! also includes the “Afro Beauty, Health and Wellness Marketplace” and Dance and Drumming Workshops.  Both presented a the Drexel Main Building.


Come early and enjoy our marketplace, a unique combination to traditional African market fare(jewelry, clothing, shea butter, arts and crafts…)  combined with a health and wellness items and information of special interest to the African/African American Community.  Drexel Main Building in the Grand Court, November 9, 5:30pm-10:30pm. Admission is FREE.


Each of the four dance companies and Baba Chuck will teach a special dance class, open to both dance professionals and the general community. The classes are open to all ages and levels. Theresa Shockley, the CEC Executive Director, “For our first DAP! we want it to be a family affair. This is the way classes are presented at the CEC, you just jump in where you are. Children and other participants of different levels are accommodated expertly by the teacher.” Workshops are on Saturday, 9am-3pm at the Drexel Dance Studios in the Main Building, 31 41 Chestnut Street.  Classes are $10, $5 for children under 15 yearsClick here for schedule and to purchase tickets.


Other DanceAfrica Philadelphia Events:


This roundtable discussion brings together leaders in the African dance and drumming community movement, many who shared their stories in the PFP local dance history exhibition Honoring Ancestors of Rhythm, Movement and Place to discuss the history and the value of African dance and drumming to our community.  The discussion with be lead by Dr. Kariamu Welsh whose company is one of the featured companies to be presented in DAP!.  “African Dance in America: Reclaiming, Embodying, and Dialoguing with Traditions”, will take place Wednesday, November 6, 7:00pm – 8:30pm, at the CEC, 3500 Lancaster Avenue.  Free, no registration required.

For directions to CEC


Developed and presented through the Philadelphia Folklore Project’s Folk Arts and Social Change Residency, this exhibit honors people, places and social and political movements important in the establishment of African dance and drumming traditions among African Americans in Philadelphia. It shares decades of people’s stories, images and memorabilia of teaching, learning, performing and community-building. The exhibit was curated in partnership with PFP, the Community Education Center and Philadelphia-based African dancers and drummers. It opened in April to great fanfare and will have a special open house as part of DAP! on Thursday, November 7, 6-8:30pm at PFP located at 735 S. 50th St.  For more information see FREE, no registration required.

Charles “Chuck” Davis, Founder and Artistic Director, DanceAfrica
Bio and a brief history of DanceAfrica

Dr. Charles “Baba Chuck” Davis, is the artistic director and founding elder of DanceAfrica. Founded in 1977, DanceAfrica NYC, the now weeklong festival grew out of a daylong festival that began with an African bazaar and showcased many of NY cities’ best known and respected African dance companies. The evenBaba Chuck Davising ended with all the companies celebrating on the BAM stage and a 36 year tradition began. The festival quickly grew to include master classes, and today includes film, music, art, and the huge outdoor bazaar. DanceAfrica is now the largest and longest running festival of African diasporic dance, culture and community engagement in the country. DanceAfrica is presented in: Dallas TX, Washington DC, Denver CO, Chicago IL, Durham NC, and now Philadelphia PA.

Baba Chuck is one of the foremost teachers and choreographers of traditional African dance in America. At seventy-something Baba Chuck, has traveled extensively to Africa and all points on the globe where African dance flourishes, studying and to curate dance for the festival. He is the founder the African American Dance Ensemble (‘83-presnt), based in his home town in Durham, NC.  He has been awarded numerous awards for his work and his contributions to the field and community. Including two honorary doctoral degrees and most recently, Chuck Davis and DanceAfrica were cited as one of “America’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures: The First 100″ by the Dance Heritage Coalition.





Farafina Kan

Farafina Kan (DC)

Farafina Kan (translation the sound of Africa) is a professional performing arts company dedicated to enhancing the history, integrity and representation of traditional African dance and music through high quality performances. Under the tutelage of international performing arts legends, they sustain the work initiated by these legends through professionalism, artistry, and continual learning. “Farafina Kan isn’t afraid to experiment.  While much of its stage repertoire is rooted in stage-oriented, traditional fare from places such as Guinea, Mali, Senegal…new works like “Kuku: Funk-di-fied” incorporate Western drums, …mixes hip-hop, funk and African music.” .- Washington Post  Farafina Kan is also known for their highly developed arts and education program. This will be a return to DanceAfrica for the troop.

Illstyle & Peace Productions

Illstyle & Peace Productions (Phila)

Founded in 2002 by Brandon “Peace” Albright, formerly of Rennie Harris Puremovement, and Forrest Webb of the Illstyle Rockers, the company fuses the movement and spirit of old school hip hop with other styles of dance such as ballet, jazz, and tap. Of this young company’s participation in DanceAfrica’s 33 year at BAM, The New York Times said: “The[y] brought a welcome, raucous humor to the stage with killer dancing.” The company also has a passion for working with young people especially around nonviolence issues. Illstyle tours extensively, both nationally and internationally. This past season the company was selected by the US State Dept. to tour through the DanceMotion USA Program. The company wowed audiences of Russia, Belarus and the Ukrine.


Kariamu and Co.

Kariamu and Company: Traditions (Phila.)

Kariamu & Company: Traditions is a collection of dancers who seek to broaden and deepen the genre of African dance with contemporary choreography, music, and poetry. Using the Umfundalai technique that was created by company founder Dr. Kariamu Welsh, Kariamu & Company: Traditions reaches its audiences with political, social, and cultural commentary situated in African and African Diasporan contexts. Kariamu & Company has been creating soul-stirring dance works since 1970, the birth of Umfundalai. In its forty-three years of excellence, the base of the company moved from Buffalo, New York to Zimbabwe, to its current home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The current Traditions’ company was started in 1996 in preparation for a biannual Kariamu & Company’s home season concert. The current company is the fourth generation of Umfundalai dancers, singers, and poets in Philadelphia.

Kulu Mele

Kùlú Mèlé African Dance and Drum Ensemble (Phila)

Founded in 1969, Kùlú Mèlé African Dance and Drum Ensemble is highly respected and the longest running African dance company in Philadelphia. Dedicated to preserving the culture and esthetic of traditional dance and music of Africa and the African Diaspora, a touring company, they perform nationally and internationally, present workshops, residencies, apprenticeships and study tours to reclaim traditional cultural practices. Featured on ABC-TV, Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Sun for their visionary trip to Guinea, West Africa 2008, they continue to astonish and excite audiences worldwide. They have performed on DanceAfrica at BAM on several occasions.  They are the winners of numerous awards and grants, including the Pew Center of Arts and Heritage and a Knight Foundation Challenge Grant.



The Penn Museum Open House, Free Community Day, October 23, 5-8pm . For more information

First Person Arts presents in partnership with DAP!, the Office of City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell of the 3rd District, Drexel University Department of Africana Studies, “Conversation and Song: Walking the Laureate Road”, which will take place at Drexel Main Auditorium, November 6, 7:30pm-9pm. Featuring the city’s poet laureate Sonia Sanchez, with Rita Dove and jazz artists vocalist Ruth Naomi Floyd.  For more information

Additional support provided by the Office of Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, Philadelphia Cultural Fund, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and Drexel University.