The Dogon's Masked Dama Dance
Source: National Geographic and The Republic of Mali. Ceremony photos supplied by Kyle Mijlof Photography.
The Dama Ceremony
The ceremony that follows the mourning is called the dama dance. Trancelike, energetic movements are performed by the men to accompany the dead into the ancestral realm and restore order to the universe. Through such sacred rituals, the Dogon believe that the benevolent forces of their ancestors are transmitted to them as the dance creates a bridge into the supernatural world.
The Dogon perform these ceremonies to honor the passing of a respected elder. This dama dance ceremony will often last for three days and involve dozens of dancers representing figures from the animal world, male and female powers, and the afterworld.
Once the dama dance has been performed, the aged bones of the elder are placed high in the windswept Bandiagara cliffs in the caves for the dead.
The Sirige Mask
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Cheza Nami Assembly
Come play with me! Or shall I say, “Cheza Nami” in Swahili. What better way to connect with our youth than through interactive dance, music and play? Throughout the school year hundreds of K-12 grade students are experiencing the magic and mystery of Africa in Cheza Nami’s informative and energetic 45 minute school assembly. Exploring the cultures, music, dress, instruments and dance of Africa, children receive enhanced diversity and multicultural awareness, while participating in something unique, memorable and fun!
About the Cheza Nami Assembly, Collaborators and Sponsors
Cheza Nami believes in a play-based, experiential approach to education by teaching African culture through dance, play and movement. The Cheza Nami Foundation Cultural Arts and Learning (CAL) assembly is a curriculum-based youth cultural arts educational program developed this year. This series will be offered to the Pleasanton Unified School District (PUSD) in collaboration with the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center (LVPAC). Listen for Life has also partnered with Cheza Nami to make their Travels with music unit on Africa, an online educational resource, available for the assembly pre-visit lesson plan.
This exciting program has won the approval of the City of Pleasanton and Redwood City Cultural Commission who have both awarded Cheza Nami with grants to provide schools with these educational assemblies. Cheza Nami has already provided assemblies to individual schools in cities throughout the Bay Area including Palo Alto, San Francisco, Redwood City and Alameda.
Benefits of the Assembly
In the lead up to the assembly, teachers are provided with a pre-visit lesson plan with material that includes facts about Africa, music, videos, worksheets and carefully selected videos and audio from Listen for Life.
From this cultural lesson plan, children will gain:
See what kid's are saying about the cultural lesson plan
Cultural activities such as dance, drumming, imaginative play and song provide interactive, educational experiences while fulfilling visual arts, social studies and physical educations standards of the California State Department of Education.
Through the assembly program, children:
With such a captivating and informational package, Cheza Nami assemblies are already booking up with the following school assemblies for November 2014: Vintage Hills Elementary, Alisal Elementary, Walnut Grove Elementary, Orion Elementary School, Valley View Elementary, Hearts Elementary School, Lydiksen Elementary.
"That was a fantastic program. All the children were fully engaged. There was never a dull moment. There was movement, there was music. All the kids were excited and I felt that they learnt so much about the culture. All the students from our 6 year-olds all the way to up to our 11 year-olds were fully engaged and had a wonderful time" -Jennifer Loewen. Teacher, Orion School
"The assembly was so fun. We danced a lot. I got tired. I turned around and around. I wish we could do it again" - Daniel, 2nd grade
"I would like to go to Africa. I want to hear them play all of the drums and I want to wear the jewelry. The jewelry is so pretty. They wear a lot of necklaces. I would like to wear them. I want to see some animals too. I want to see a lion. I hope I can go to Kenya" -Samantha, 4th grade
"During the assembly I learnt about they are like us. My favorite part was when the man was playing with the drums." -Unknown student
You can find children's reviews on our pre-assembly lesson plan on Africa HERE.
Parents! Partake in the fun and join your child with an African storybook from our library while cuddling up with safari stuffed animals.
Other exciting activities include tot-sized drums to play, African-themed face painting and photos with Tano and Mali cutouts.
Don't miss out! Get your tickets now.
This Sunday 19th October the Bothwell Arts Centre in Livermore will be transformed into an adventurous African expedition! Bring your children along for cultural and educational fun, crafts and activities!
The Safari Room
Treat the kids to a creative exploration through the wilderness in our outdoor Safari room. Here they will craft their own Manzili (African hut) and make music shakers using recycled materials. Our theme for the Safari room is recycling. Children will get to see and play with toys from Kenya that are made from recycled products and then use materials like toilet paper and cardboard in the craft area.
Kids will get to paint, play and meet Cheza Nami's African children characters, Tano and Mali, along with their friendly giraffe, Twigo.
ART | DANCE | MUSIC | FOOD | FASHION
Spotlight on Artists & Musicians
Welcome to magical Africa - no passport required! There are only 4 more days left before Taste of Africa, where you and the family can taste zealous Zimbabwe, adorn yourself in kaleidoscope Kenya, hear the music of spectacular Senegal and move to the rhythm of gregarious Ghana. Prepare your senses for Kenyan food tastings that will be filling the music-filled air with a delicious aroma of everything from Mama's gravy to Mbuzi Choma (rack of spiced and roasted lamb).
Below we have highlighted the renowned African artists that will sweep you away to their homelands in Africa this Sunday, 19th October. They will delight in taking you on a cultural adventure as they display their heritage and talents in the form of music, art and one-of-kind crafted creations.
And, as if that isn't enough, there are also wine baskets up for auction at the event which include; tickets to the 34th Annual Harvest Wine Celebration, private tasting & tours and magnums from the likes of Concannon Vineyard and Rubino Estate Winery!
Ibou Ngom - A taste of Senegal
This master drummer, dance, performance artist was born into a Griot family of traditional musicians in Senegal, West Africa He has been carrying on his family’s musical lineage since childhood. Ibou facilitates community drumming and dancing with adults and students of all ages.
Swing your body to this video from one of his drumming circle workshops.
Jayson Fann - Spirit Nests & Soulful Music
Awaken your spirit with Jayson's Spirit Nests, art, music and dance. In this great interview Jayson tells us about himself and his passions.
This Sunday he will be helping us with decor and sharing his drumming and curated music with us.
Piwai - A taste of Zimbabwe
With certain artists, the craft runs so pure in the blood that simply bearing witness to their work has the power to transport you to another time and place. Piwai is such an artist. Her soulful voice and dynamic stage presence command attention while offering a transformational experience. Her passion for song, dance, and community is a gift to the world.
Born in Zimbabwe, Piwai was surrounded by music from an early age. Her first influences include music from the Shona and Ndebele people of Zimbabwe, Suthu and Zulu tribes, and the Zimbabwean Catholic Church. She joined her first choir at the age of 10, wrote her first song at age of 13, and hasn’t stopped since.
Nancy - A taste of Ghana
Born and raised in Ghana, Nancy Oppongmea McClymonds studied dance and theatre at the University of Ghana, and worked with Abibigromma Theatre Company.
Her energetic dance is not-to-be-missed performance happening this Sunday at the Taste of Africa!
Guest speaker from Asante Africa
Erna Grasz, a former Silicon Valley corporate executive with an advanced degree in engineering, is the founder of Asante Africa Foundation and CFO at Cheza Nami Foundation. Asante Africa Foundation provides invaluable education to youth across 31 villages in Kenya and Tanzania. Asante Africa believes in the power of knowledge as a catalyst to help young people create a future where they can live their fullest potential.
Hear what this wonderful woman has to say at Taste of Africa.
Guest artist: Elisangela Sousa - A taste of Brasil
Lead Vocals, Percussion, Dance for SambaDa. Born and raised in Salvador, Bahia, Dandha has been a member of Ile Aiye, one of Brazil’s most important musical and cultural institutions, since she was 6 years old.
As a lead dancer with Ile Aiye, Dandha has shared the stage with Brazilian stars such as Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Daniela Mercury. As well as performing with Ile Aiye and SambaDá, Dandha teaches Afro Brazilian dance all over the San Francisco Bay Area.
Guest artists: Oumou Diamanka & Mbor Ngoma Faye - A taste of Senegal
This husband (on drums) and wife (dancer) duo will blow you away with their West African djembe and dance which is trance-like, rhythmic and full of energy!
For a peek into one of their dance lessons, take a look at this video clip.
Don't hesitate. Book your tickets now, before it's too late!