The Lula Washington Dance Theatre will pay tribute to its African-American roots at its 19th annual Kwanzaa festival on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 and Wednesday, December 30, 2009. Students from the dance studio and members of its nationally acclaimed dance company will perform traditional African dance, songs, poetry, and drumming to celebrate the holiday honoring African heritage and culture.
Some of the works that will be performed are “Harambee Suite”, a high-energy West African dance accompanied by Senegalese master drummer Malik Sow, and “Taratibu”, a children’s dance about cultural pride. The two-day festival, which falls on the days celebrating the principles of cooperative economics and purpose, is the last time the company will perform this year. The company embarks on a nationwide tour in 2010, which includes three performances in Los Angeles.
The festival will be held at the Lula Washington Dance Theatre studio on 3773 S. Crenshaw Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90016. The program will begin at 7:30 pm on both nights. Tickets are $10 for children ages 5 to 12 years old, $15 for students and senior citizens, $20 for advance general admission, and $25 at the door. Community leaders, including the Crenshaw Chamber of Commerce, will attend the event.
Founder and owner Lula Washington started producing the annual Kwanzaa performances in 1990 after seeing a need for the African-American community to embrace and celebrate its heritage. Associate director Tamica Washington-Miller says, “Being of African descent, I want to share about the African Diaspora through music, dance, and poetry. I want the children and youth to be a part of it because they are our future. We have to make sure they know their own history and culture.”
The Lula Washington Dance Theatre was founded in 1980 and is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary. Its mission is to establish a world-renowned dance company and youth-focused dance school in the heart of inner-city Los Angeles. The company kicked off its 30th anniversary tour in October with a three-week, National Dance Project funded tour in New Mexico. The City of Los Angeles also selected the company to represent the city in December at the International Book Festival in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Kwanzaa is typically celebrated from December 26 to January 1 to honor family, community, and culture. The name Kwanzaa comes from a Swahili phrase meaning ‘first fruits’ and signifies how African tribes traditionally came together to celebrate the harvest’s first fruits. The holiday focuses on seven principles critical to African thought – unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.