Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ghanaian Dance Guardian & Wisdom keeper now seated upon Ancestral throne

Dec. 2015 -- Adept, Stately, gracious and agile in movement and Spirit, a grand library of cultural wisdom and devotee to Dance, closes and transitions. Iba'se Baba Nii, I am forever  moved by your Grand Spirit, wisdom and Artistic excellence. 
~R. Califa, Nzo Califa Dance Works

Prof. Fransis Nii Yartey "...the recent past director of the Department of Dance Studies, University of Ghana (Legon) and the acting Director of the Ghana Dance Ensemble – passed on last week at the age of 69 -after a short illness during a national assignment in the Indian capital, New Delhi."
Dr. F. Nii Yartey transitioned Nov. 21, 2015, his final bow in Delhi, India 
leading and Africa/India Dance Summit

More about the legacy of Baba Nii here:

KUSUM AFRICA , MARCH 2002 - UC Berkeley, Zellerback - Pioneering Moment
photo courtesy: Baba CK Ladzekpo, Key Collaborator of KUSUM Africa [living]
Pioneers of African Dance & Drum: Gran Kemoko Sano, Ballet Merveilles de Guinea. Malonga Casquelourd Founder/Artisitc Director, Fua Dia Congo, Nigerian Pioneer/Activist Babatunde Olantunji, CK Ladzekpo [living], the Director of the UC Berkeley African Music Program/Founder of the African Music and Dance Ensemble & Dr. F. Nii Yartey, Director, National Dance Company of Ghana. *2 men flanking names unknown
"Kusum Africa recruited 54 artists from four dance companies based in three countries for a traditional dance narrative that took three years to prepare and ran more than 2 1/2 hours at its premiere." ~SF Gate Article, March 2002


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

MalongaFEST 2015 - Life, Legacy & LIVING!

East Palo Alto, CA -- #Malonga ARTS legacy, is a treasured Cultural trust cultivating Congolese Dance and Traditions in the U.S. since 1977. Adjoined by Congolese Artistic luminaries and bridged with African American Cultural Gatekeepers, the NZO of Congolese Performance Arts transcend. One of the most infamous legacies is that of the late Malonga Casquelourd of Brazzaville, Congo, first to arrive in New York building with the Pioneering works of Sompa and Massamba, forming Tanawa Dance Company, on the books as 1977, to include Dance leader Thelma Cleopatra Loubaki as a founding member.

Malonga Family - 3 Generations of
Congolese Performing Arts legacy
Fua Dia Congo -
Our Congolese Heritage
     Malonga, later moving Westward to touch down  in 'lil Nairobi, moreover known as East Palo Alto,  made the WEST his stomping grounds; He'd be adjoined with Congolese Community pillars Maboukaka [iba'e] and Paul N'Goumba [iba'e] forming a legendary trio responsible for the the birth of Fua Dia Congo, advanced by Female Dance leadership of Regine Maboukaka Ndounda and Mama Donna McCraney to name a few. Fua's exciting launch was made possible fostered in a fertile Community of staunch progressive movement in the area: Nairobi College, Shule, Black leadership of Stanford University, the Community Mothers and Brotherhood of EPA. Relocating to Oakland, never losing ground, Fua Dia Congo expanded into a dynamic Cultural aesthetic and movement of Congolese Performing Arts traditions as Oakland remains a historical portal nurturing the sustainability of Fua Dia Congo.

      Now 4 generations forward, this legacy  flourishing Cultural institutions serving as a model for other Multi-African Cultural genres to thrive, including its Diaspora agents. MalongaFEST is carried forward by the leadership of its descendants still empowered by those same communities, yet forging innovative trails through old creative traditions. Yet, this year, led by its own Daughters, Mothers and talented Teachers Muisi-kongo and Lungusu Malonga, takes the 'FEST back  "where it all started", as East Palo Alto welcomes this celebratory occasion to strengthen ties, fuel creative fire and #DiataDiata advance forward. ~Matondo #MalongaFest2015 Honorable mention to the Pioneering Mothers of this legacy: Mama Nancy Maboukaka, Dr. Faye McNair-Knox, Mama Jeannie Ishman Brown [iba'e] and Ms. Cynthia Phillips

SEE flier about MalongaFEST2015, PARTICIPATE in Drum/Dance Classes
and GO Congo Camp MAUI2016
NOTE: Story as written for posting purposes with respects forward to the numerous agencies and Communal leaders that make this possible. 
~Regina Califa Calloway - Student of Malonga Casquelourd &  FUA / Diata Diata Alum, Kinship Community Partner via Congo SQ West Kinship Society.

Friday, December 4, 2015

nzoCALIFA: Divine Thunder and Sacred Winds of Change

#GoodFriday -- A tributary salute to the dynamic cosmic duo of Oya and Sango - Maferefun Orisha. Modupe Iya and Baba. A moment to rise to the occasion of such a charged Season of change and forward motion. Over the years, under the guise of proficient spiritual leadership, these forces would influence my path with unforgettable guiding principles still empowering my life today:
  • Walk forward astute, strong and never wear your woes on your heart like a pocket.
  • In the face of injustice, prepare your case trump tight, align with advocates and claim your Victory
  • Kawo is a charismatic leader and commanding speaker amplifying, attuning or  appeasing to his desire.  So be alert and unrelenting in favor of your petitions before this energy. Yet, stay savvy in nature breeding harmony not discord in these exchanges.
  • When it comes to the DRUM - clear the floor, for more than likely he'll/she'll own it! Kawo BRINGS THE #DANCE with impressive movement dexterity in leaps and bounds.  Executing amazing footwork Sango maintains immeasurable vigor, with impeccable grace, always dressed to the nines. *smile*
                                    *Kawo kabie si le*
  • And let it be known, that it is Oya-Iyansa that fuels the fire of Sango; she is a staunch adjudicator and powerful transformation agent  launching her unstoppable winds and storms in the wake of stagnation. 
  • She owns the purse strings as celebrated Marketplace inciting cooperative economics in our world communities, advancing micro-business enterprise.
  • Wearing her sacred mask, Iya rides that fine line between life and death like a maverick equestrian, often invoked in Egungun masquerade Ancestral traditions.
                                         *Hekua hey*

Today's post pays virtual homage to Orisa Sango & Oya-Iyansa represented through Artistic excellence via Dance & Drum  mediumship.  Selected below are beloved Master Teachers whose knowledge of these sacred traditions, I revere and treasure their embodied wisdom through my works.  Ase'o   
~ Regina Califa, Nzo Califa Dance Works


Formigão: Xango, God of Fire and Thunder  
from the Afro Brazilian tradition of Candomble´
iba'se *give praise to Life*
Film/Editor: Layne Redmond, co-produced/directed by Rosangela Silvestre. 
Salvador, Brazil, Nov. 2005. Xango: Formigao

Jose Francisco Dances for
Orisha Chango
feat. Akpon Michael Spiro & Mestre Jorge Alabe

Act III: Chango/Xango 
feat. Bobi Cespedes & Jorge Alabe
Practitioners of the African Spiritual traditions and celebrated recording Artists.

Bata Ketu: Musical Interplay of Cuban Lucumi and Brasilian Candombleproduced by Michael Spiro & Mark Lamson |

~May Orixa guide and protect~

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Like "Nzo Califa Dance Works" on Facebook

Featured COVER photo on "Nzo Califa Dance Works" Facebook Page platform sharing newsworthy trends and noteworthy happenings in the Bay Area Cultural Dance scene and beyond. 

picture: snapshot of original photo from @nzoCALIFA archives
Afro Brasilian Grupo Carnavalesco Fogo Na Roupa - Carijama Oakland 1997   
Mestre Carlos Aceituno, Founder/Artistic Director [iba'se]
Regina "Califa" Calloway: Carnaval Program Manager/Principal Dancer

original photo: Baba George Sekou Lebeaud

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

#Dance-DRUM activism in motion! #SoulofOakland

[photo below] June 2003 Indybay news reports "..latest target of Mayor Jerry Brown's gentrification efforts is the Alice Arts Center. Brown plans to displace the 50 residents and the 22 arts ..." 
Learn more about this movment:



Tuesday, October 20, 2015

nzoCALIFA: Teaching Tuesday - "Gele"

“Gele” pronounced gaye lay, is an African head wrap/head-tie that has its roots in the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria, West Africa.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Ancestral reflections: The rite walk...nzoCALIFA

Ago Ire'o Monday, as the rooster crows it knows well its role in the animal kingdom, and its Àṣẹ is often the Ebó that may fuel our mighty warriors who stand as sacred guardians at the crossroads,  guiding our respective pathways, in our own walk.  The beauty of this is, once you connect with nature there exists an open channel of communication to petition for what you need and the Universe will provide. Yet, there is a hierarchical element for which you carry forward this process as we are all on that walk to learn "these ways" or "what works best" in our walk. For some of us, it is "the walk" that binds us to a deeper pact with our Ancestors.  And for me, some days this statement is ever more truer than others.                                    
This time of year of the Odunde [Harvest Season] of Ancestral rites and traditions is very potent with an expressed call to action from our inner sanctum to the divine forces of nature.  As a lot of my folks might say "It's a LOT goin' on", so cleaning and cleansing rites are in order.  There's the physical cleaning, and then there is more importantly one's Spiritual hygiene.  For these matters, no agency would ever be more divinely proficient than that of my Ancestors, I know for certain that they help me to hold such a countenance of peace and alignment within.  
"Somebody has to be a demonstration to us that, who you are just as you are, no matter where you are is okay, and that you can take those pieces of where you are right now and have peace with them.  Somebody has to be a demonstration that we're not put here to suffer..." ~Iyanla Vanzant,  APR2015-Oakland  
Egun Altar by EMESÈMessengers of the African Diaspora - Oakland, CA

I work to claim the trials of my busiest days as triumphs and treat myself to precious moments of solitude near water, when possible. Water quiets the mind's chatter, cleanses the residual of the day and depending upon how deep your moment, can clear another area of your heart's chambers. At times, challenges may arise from adversarial comments or expectations from loved ones as to how you move in your walk, or how you conduct your life, leaving no room for human error. [self-check] 
"Juneteenth" Egun shrine by 
Awon Ohun Omnira, Oakland, CA

"You have the right to the take the path and the calling that's on your heart." ~Iyanla Vanzant    

      Some of the negative circumstances we suffer through are an opportunity to be your own best healer. As you are not alone, be prayerful to awaken your senses to attract positive resources of support and advocacy.  Make certain you check your heart and weigh how much of a role your behavior might play in any issues bringing on the extra weight -- Can you lighten the load? Is the drama scripted by you or someone else?  Is forgiveness an issue? Keep in mind to be present, and just breathe.  Guided sources of positive reinforcements can also bring relief, perhaps through a living example of a revered Family Elder, Community Healers, Self-development Workshops / Retreats, and or trusted Spiritual facilitator. Often in my walk along a guided path,  there are signs I blatantly see from the plant and animal kingdom or I'll get a warm feeling from a deep and genuine conversation around topics that speak to my testimony.

Nature makes me smile often responding quickly, re-routing my steps to witness a spiritual benchmark or experience an unexpected joy in the day like a #secondline parade. Yet, participating in my life's passion brings me unspeakable joy, one that I care to live and know EVERYDAY. [sigh] God is Good! When life delivers such gifts of fulfillment, I am fueled with a high threshold of gratitude and don't hesitate to amplify it with high praise giving thanks to Olodumare and my Ancestors. 

What I know is, that when I am engaged in doing what I love, and working with loving people of extraordinary vision it sheds light upon my walk. Folks with strong vessels of capacity, who forgive, pray and love together honoring those whose we belong to, sweetly delivers blessed assurance. 

And so,  I remain on the rite path and will just keep on walking -- might even break into a sprint, like a gold medalist running right alongside the Gazelles, in FULL FORCE.  #RiteOn   

Regina Califa | @nzoCALIFA
Nzo Califa Dance Works
"...where Dance lives and SPIRIT moves."

this divine sisterhood that inspires my WALK with their song

Mary Mary - WALKING

*"Go Get It" Writer(s): Erica Atkins-Campbell, Warryn Campbell, Trecina Atkins-Campbell | Copyright: Wet Ink Red Music, It'S Tea Tyme, Campbell Kids Publishing, Emi April Music Inc., That'S Plum Songs, WB Music Corp.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

nzoCALIFA: Dancing yOUR Destiny #RiteON track...interview link

We know of one who shares in this vision and blazing pathways of enlightenment through her tenacious works called...
Posted by Nzo Califa Dance Works on Monday, September 28, 2015

Monday, September 28, 2015

Congo Square gives RIZE to #Dancestory2015 and #CSQwest10

‪#‎SumSOL2015‬ - Been writing, wRite-ing as fast as I can. The highlight of my Summer has been touching ground in the state of my Ancestors maternal and paternal - Louisiana.   My experience has been filled with Community-Arts building immersions, Spiritual boot camps, all-night research sessions and 24-hour sewing projects. 
Currently my sojourn bends round to its anchor leg with 92% of seasonal support towards #Dancestory2015, ever so grateful and forging ahead. -- #RiteOn. 

Special Summer highlights of my experience involved forwarding the mission of Congo SQ West Kinship Society commemorating its 10th year  "...of good works and prosperity." 
Joined by my cohorts Janeen Johnson and Muisi-kongo Malonga we participated in a Healing and Recovery" initiative in kinship with a 
"Brotha T" of   New Orleans
dynamic collective of New Orleans African-Ancestored Artists of #RhythmicAlchemy  via Nfungotah, Inc. A monumental undertaking giving rize and revival to the Spirit of Arts mediumships surpassing media-frenzied stigmas and setting historical benchmarks like Congo Square at midnite! Key organizer and Artist Visionary, was our very own Tyrone "Brotha T" Henry of New Orleans, also Bissap Breeze Co-owner and Founder of Nfungotah now recognized as Nfungotah, Inc.

Congo Square African
Houma fire Ritual
R. Califa w/ Master Fine Artist
Fred Johnston

Sunday Soul sessions began with a visit to the #Water shrine commissioned by #Rhythmic Alchemy; we co-created and installed, a 16 ft African Mermaid more notably called #MamiWata the world over, in paying homage to African Matrilineal Spiritual traditions. The day progressed into a celebratory gathering lead by Elder state folks and Commune+Unity of Congo Square, Dance, Drum, Culture and ‪#Kimble‬ kinship; A 4-direction salute by Coco, Chief of the Houma Indians right in the space where their historical field harvest was celebrated. And in that same spot, we participated in a cleansing ritual and released them worries, woes and festerings to burrrrn -- a'dupe Baba Luther, and Mama JamilahWAAAH to the Spiritual Mothers/Leaders of Congo Square and hail up the Paul Guerra Studio/ Summer Artist Residency: work-create-[Wo]manifest *ting*.

Thank you to the special collection of Family surnames shared with me of spirit-filled convo-exchanges giving inference to what makes New Orleans special, leading to unique intersections among community kin -- All on a powerful Monday-- Ire'o Golden Feather. Brass Bands, Red Beans and Rice, African collard greens, and last Summer eating Shrimp Po'boys [yeeesh] I truly cherish my sessions of solitude sitting with Mami Mississippi.

...and to my Ancestors, at every turn, you let it be seen, told and heard, that 
I'm on the rite track, along with those Elders that blessed me with incantations.
Restaurant /Cultural Institution  
feat. Traditions of Congo Square
704 N. Rampart St. #NOLA
Societé Minokan Vodou
"Papa Guede" Kumbuka African
Drum and Dance Collective

Now working to travel to where my Father was born [Summerfield] and where my Grands owned land [West Carroll Parish] -- never been there, yet not too far. If you know anything about Track & Field and I've been a runner for over 17 years of my life, that last leg is EVERYTHING, especially with intentional support. 
     Check in on how much we've gained as I've sprinkled much information upon my platforms on Facebook, Twitter @nzoCALIFA and the #Dancestory2015 link, ongoing since 2013. Ask questions and DO share a good word or three.  Search hashtags #Dancestory2015 #CSQwest10 or #RhytmicAlchemy  and follow the trail of good works in motion.

Big Queen Ausettua of the Washitaw Nation, Founder of Kumbuka, joined by 
2nd Chief Shaka Zulu of Yellow Pocahontas, Golden Feather Co-owner.
Aug. 29, 2015 - Nfungotah, Inc.'s #RhythmicAlchemy at Congo Square
in partnership with Gulf South Rising. / #CSQwest10

Thanking you ALL ahead for the love, faith and support. Walk well and wishing you a Happy Odunde, Egun Season, bountiful Harvest for us all. 
A deep note of gratitude to the New Orleans African Artist Village, Spiritual Mothers of Congo Square & Rhythmic Alchemy Collective.  A special salute to the indomitable  works of  Colette Pichon Battle and Gulf South Rising 2015Matondo!!!

Loving life and you immensely,
Regina "Califa" Calloway
Nzo Califa Dance Works [FB]
Congo SQ West Kinship Society[FB]

Thursday, September 17, 2015

nzoCALIFA: Griot photograher uplifts the scene, SEEN: Baba Tumani Onabiyi

TumuArts Photo by Tumani Onabiyi © 2015
     His eyes have truly seen the glory of Our people the world over. Can you say you were part of the Black Arts Movement? or What do you recall about the infamous Black House? Were you on the scene when the Black Panthers emerged? What critical benchmarks of the Black Cultural Arts explosion can you cite and say that you were a witness to? -- or what private African cultural repository do you know holds an extensive archival collection of the largest multi-cultural event ever held on the African continent-- Festac '77?!

Baba Tumani Onabiyi has, is and lives these genres, brilliantly creating pathways into the horizon of his legacy as his works reflect a legendary International status.
Ooni's Palace,Enuwa Ile-Ife

Multi-disciplinary Artist, Cultural Historian, legendary Photographer, Drummer, Filmmaker, and a treasured Cultural Griot of our time, are but a few of the Communal stools he is inherently enthroned upon.

In my own Dance sojourn, it has been my great fortune to first intersect with Baba Tumani as a Berkeley High school student of my now Dancestor, Paula Mc Cullum.  Her 1982 "Congolese Suite" choreography was a tribute to Ta Malonga Casquelourd and Baba Tumani was an accompanist and member of Fua Dia Congo. It was my first time dancing Congolese and to "be thrown into the lion's den" known infamously as "the solo."  As both these beloved Dance luminaries, Paula and Ta Malonga have transcended into the Ancestral realm - we remain blazing our own trails respectively still crossing, connecting and creating with purpose.

Sharp and critically just, his talk can run you looong on some knowledge re-fueling your objective with deeper insight and his wit?!- cutting! He' seen a lot on the scene, working tirelessly like that of a blacksmith and giving for decades bigger than his heart now gracing those of us who sit and listen to the timeless wisdom of his life, involving the lives of many -- 

I most certainly am not the first to speak to the accolades of Baba Tumani; a blog post could not hold such volume and I won't be the last to celebrate the chronicling of his legendary works, exhibitions, installations, lectures, coffee table books and or potential appearances on Tavis Smiley or even TED talk. Yet, his works STILL captivate me, as I was combing my networks for site-worthy posts to this blog, the photo below captured my eye. Whoa'd by the gallant imagery, it was pleasing to me as I do know this Sistar. A smile warmed my face and turned resolute with an affirming head nod to learn that it was Baba Tumani on the scene. It is truly a DANCER'S DREAM to be immortalized by such mastery. #RiteOn

*note - See actual photo at link:  
*Visit "Tumani Photo Video" on Facebook and see his extensive Gallery.
photographer: TumuArts Photo by Tumani Onabiyi © 2015 
pictured below: Shawna Adkins  Choreographer: Isaura Oliveira
Costume: Nzinga Pace|Black-eyed Pea Festival, Mosswood Park - Oakland, CA

Thursday, September 3, 2015

My Bare Soles, Bare Soul Takes FLIGHT!

"I’m not sure I’ve met a dancer who doesn’t discuss 
African dance as a spiritual practice." - Delina Patrice Brooks, Director

The Bay Area African Dance scene emerges upon an International arena, garnering nation-wide support and overwhelming praise with growing interest  about What African American Women really have to say and share, while participating in discourse about their African Dance experience.  As seen through a guided lens, devotee, Multi-disciplinary Artist, Producer and Director Delina Brooks of Delina Dream Productions gives voice to emerging Cultural care-takers, Dance forces, Educators, Teaching Artists and a Lawyer amplifying the voices of countless to be heard and revisiting the wisdom of those before us. #RiteOn  We're sure you'll be glued to the screen and moved to want to see and listen to more. Featured Internationally renown African Dance Master Teachers at Oakland's historical cradle place for African Dance - Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, shepherded by Dance dynasty Diamano Coura West African Dance Company. On behalf of Nzo Califa Dance Works, BE in this #Dance with your continued support and watch the "Rough Cut teaser" below. 
~R. Califa, Curatorial Director Nzo Califa Dance Works

...shared testimony from one #Dance agent to another...

Monday, August 17, 2015

#CSQwest10: New Orleans Revival, Recovery & Rhythmic Alchemy
aug. 14th -- Stepping up my service in the #Dance by making atonement and to #HonorBreath. Joined in  New Orleans Commune+Unity initiative at the historic Congo Square - AUG. 29th 10A - 12Midnite, Nfungotah Inc.'s #RhythmicAlchemy will invoke measures of "Healing and Recovery" at the country's epicenter --Congo Square - Orleans Parish - Louisiana.
     Reflecting upon this vital connection that fuels my works of Service, Ancestor honoring, Professional Teaching curriculum and my own vitality -- remembering those unforgettable words that my Grandfather of Pioneer, Louisiana told me in the emergence of gentrification in the Bay Area -- "...don't forget your own backyard." *never forget how we come and whose you belong to." I forge enlightened pathways as a beacon of light aspiring higher...I now commemorate a decade of powerful works shared in the wake of what has been coin-phrased around the world as #Katrina10 - Yet these works service to heal and revive the SPIRIT of our good kinship and those "...of good works and prosperity" #CSQwest10 - t'ache, t'ache, t'ache.  ~R. Califa, Nzo Califa Dance Works

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

nzoCALIFA - Giving LIFE through the Dance

Instagram capture: @nzoCALIFA
Dance Agent inspirations: upper left to lower: @nzo CALIFA, Malia Movement, Alicia "Sunshine" Gbaho, Boom Shake Music, Viver Brasil,  Dance Marntra & R. Califa with Queen CSF Veronica, ,