'This is not just dance': Bokandeye African Dance Theater keeps African culture and history alive

The company performs at cultural and educational events across the tri-state area, but they're based at the Yonkers YWCA.

News 12 Staff

Feb 6, 2023, 11:41 AM

Updated 521 days ago

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Family and unity are two of the values at the center of celebrations for Black History Month, and they're also at the center of a Hudson Valley dance troupe.
"This is not just dance…It's our life. It's our culture. It's our history." Anthony Wooden Sr. founded Bokandeye African Dance Theater in 1994 and has been keeping history alive for so many. "We strive to enlighten our audience with the rich and colorful history of West Africa."
Some of these performers started as kids. "It's a passion. I love it. I grew up in it. I've heard it while in the womb," says Musical Director Anthony Wooden Jr.
Now, they're teaching. "It's a reminder of who I am. It's a reminder of my ancestors," says Aatifa Drayton, a member. "Proud. Nothing else can explain it. It's a great feeling," adds Shenel Weekes, a member.
The company performs at cultural and educational events across the tri-state area, but they're based at the Yonkers YWCA.
Bokandeye comes from the Woloff language used in West Africa - it roughly means family. The members say, though they come from different backgrounds, they truly believe they're one family, united by Mother Africa.
For more information on Bokandeye classes and workshops, click here.


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