Dance, drama highlight event

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 24, 2004

After taking its audience on a unique journey into African and Black culture, the 37th annual African Extravaganza came to a conclusion Saturday night after nearly two hours of dance, music and drama.

The Performing Arts Center was packed Saturday as residents from across the Black Belt and different parts of the country came to participate in the educational and entertaining festivities.

After a “Dining in the Diaspora” catered dinner that gave everyone a taste of African dishes, a drum ensemble got the show off to a resounding and loud start with African beats.

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Two young boys in the group stole the show as they took turns pounding their palms against the drums.

Soon afterwards, a group of local African dancers showed off their fast-paced steps in traditional African dance costumes.

This group was followed by more elaborate dance routines from the Village Dance and Drum Ensemble from Nashville, Tenn. The professional troupe also sang a couple of traditional African songs.

“This was a really amazing show,” said Thomas Martin of Wilcox County. “The whole experience was great and I was really impressed.”

JaMarcus Thomas, 8, said his favorite part of the show were the drummers.

“I like watching the way they hit the drums,” he said. “I think I could probably do that.”

Margaret Hardy, Chair

Margaret Hardy, Chairwoman of the Black Belt Arts and Cultural Center, said the organization has expanded the African Extravaganza over the years to become a two-day event.

On Friday, Hardy said, around 300 children from area schools came to the Performing Arts Center to “engage in finger painting, arts and crafts and storytelling.”

“This was an opportunity for people of all races to come in and experience African culture,” she said. “We think it is so important to learn about other people’s cultures. That’s how you learn to get along with people and understand what they are all about.”

Hardy added that the best way to help bring a greater understanding of the different races of the world is to participate in events such as these.

The event came to an end with a couple of mini-plays from performed by children in the organization’s youth group and a longer performance by adults.

The adult play focused on the injustice in our society and how to overcome. The children focused on being yourself and not giving in to peer pressure.