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Muntu Dance Theatre performs authentic and progressive interpretations of contemporary and ancient African and African-American dance, music and folklore. A colorful and dynamic company, Muntu brings audiences out of their seats and into the aisles with its unique synthesis of dance, rhythm and song.
In the Bantu language, the word “muntu” means “the essence of humanity,” and that’s exactly what the company seeks to express in its work and to impress on audiences. Through its performances, Muntu strives to create an atmosphere of communal participation as well as encourage and inspire audiences and participants to join in the celebration!
As’e (pronounced ASHE) – The Power to Make Things Happen
Yankadi / Macru
Choreography: Moustapha Bangora, Former Principle dancer of Les Ballet Africans and Former Associate Director of Muntu Dance Theatre
Music: Traditional Guinea featuring the Muntu Drummers
Yankadi and Macru are two common dances from the south western region of Guinea, West Africa. Both are lighthearted courting rhythms that are played in conjunction with one another. Yankadi means “it is good here,” and the dance itself is one of courtship, flirtation and admiration. Macru is a happy dance that celebrates the full moon, connectivity and newness. The dances are customarily performed by the Sousou and Manden tribes.
Bonjani (Drum Talk)
Choreography: Famoudou Konate
Music: Babu Atiba, Founding Member of Muntu and Clifton Robinson, Muntu Musical Director
This work is inspired by two traditional West African rhythms Mendiani and Dundunba. The Mendiani rhythm is customarily played during “coming of age” ceremonies for young women. The rhythm calls villagers to participate in the ceremony and celebration of this female rite-of-passage. Dundunba is a family of rhythms created to depict the triumphs and challenges of adulthood, and to remind us that the will of life always serves to connect us back to the higher source, from which we have all come.
Choreography: Stacy L. Smith and Jeremy Noah
A choreographed collaboration, the piece infuses Cameroon Urban Dance with African Diaspora and Caribbean Dance Hall movements. The piece was created to celebrate the victory of the Guadeloupian soldiers, as they fought for their independence.
Choreography: Amansu Eason, Muntu Assistant Artistic Director
A choreographic exploration of how intimately connected the Creator is to all things. This piece begins with prayer—at times in broken (dance) phrases, then moves to subconscious revelation, receptivity and finally, connectedness with our Higher Power.
About Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago
Founded in 1972, the Chicago-based, Muntu Dance Theatre is the largest African dance company in the United States. The company is highly-regarded for its innovative repertory and preserving traditional African dance while creating new works that build on African, Caribbean and African-American cultural traditions. Muntu carefully researches the cultural and historical significance of the dances and their societies of origin. As a result, Muntu is more than just a performing company. They are also a company of teachers: an essential element to the perpetuation of their art form and its accurate transmission to audiences. Muntu’s core programs include professional performances both at home and abroad, comprehensive community arts programs, classes for the public and professional training for emerging new young artists.
Dance at the North Shore Center is supported in part by
Crown Family Philanthropies