Homage to the ancestors

Ten years after its inception, the African Caribbean Dance Theatre Inc. continues to provide a niche for cultural dance.

The organization, which has upheld its motto “preserving African dance and drumming for future generations”, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary with a Black History Month concert program on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. at The Moon.

“I think anytime you’re able to pass 10 years in something, it’s a major milestone,” said Jevelle Robinson, co-founder and executive director of ACDT.

“Being around and being consistent, we’ve had people in the company go away and come back and we’re still here,” she said.

Robinson said the purpose is to recognize and pay tribute to ancestors through African dancing and drumming.

The concert promises to mesmerize the audience with dance and drum rhythms from Senegal, the Ivory Coast and Guinea.

Musical selections will include a percussion piece from the Ivory Coast titled Hunter’s Rhythm. Co-founder and artistic director Marcus Robinson said the selections are celebratory, including the African-American inspired “Percussion Discussion”. “It is a conversation between musical instruments like the keyboard, congas and shekere,” he said.

Musical director and lead drummer, Eric Bltbigore, 28, a native of the Ivory Coast has been drumming since the age of six.

He said the performance involves the dancers and drummers working together.

The organization is proud to see its own dancers functioning as choreographers for the concert.

Dancer Gayla Lowery, started with the company at age 10.

“We’re like one big family,” said the 18-year-old senior at Leon High School.

“When we get together it’s a beautiful thing.”

Lowery said switching from dancer to instructor was difficult.

“When you’re a choreographer, you have to look at the group as a whole,” she said.

“I was a little scared, but it’s coming along.”

The Robinsons were first dancers with FAMU’s Orchesis Contemporary Dance Theatre under Dr. Beverly Barber in the late 1980s.

Marcus Robinson calls Orchesis the gateway to their African dance exposure.

“It spoke to me in a way these other dances didn’t,” he said.

This attraction led to the establishment of the ACDT which is a non-profit youth and adult cultural organization based in Tallahassee. It provides weekly classes and workshops year-round at Bethel by the Lake and participates in the annual Florida African Dance Festival.

Tickets for the concert are $10. For more information, call 539-4087 or email ACDT93@aol.com

Daneesha Davis can be reached at Daneesha@aol.com