Wednesday, July 22, 2015

nzoCALIFA - Kalunga Crossings: Mama Djaara - Dancestor

"Water Runs Through It" conceived by New Orleans native, Leslie Zakiya Cornish  - whose Dance sojourn of African American identity steeped in the historical backdrop of the Black Civil Rights movement and African Liberation cultivated through International Ambassadorship by premiere African Ballet Companies of the times -- the catalyst in further establishing a long-time kinship exchange and presence of African Dance and Drum Communities in the United States. The real gift of this piece as part of her M.F.A. Thesis concert at Temple University, reveals a Mother-daughter Ancestral cycle story influenced by "her intimate connection to the radical impact of Hurricane Katrina, and the invocation of two bodies of water inherently connected to her ancestral roots - the Mississippi River and the Atlantic Ocean."  The featured soloist in the center is Zakiya's Mother a celebrated Dance Elder and Medium - Mama Djaara.

"Water Runs Through It: Rogation"  

Her mother Djaara Linda Pijeaux aka "Mama Djaara", iba'e, ibae tonnu, transitioned on the 4th of July, shortly after a celebration of Life Party presented by her Commune+unity in New Orleans.
original photo courtesy of  Zakiya L. Cornish, daughter
     I first met Mama Djaara on the #Dance floor at a conference held at Tulane University in the Summer of 2005. And while dancing Palo in another class of the conference taught by Baba Richard Gonzalez she broke into Mardi Gras Indian mode like like a shape shifter as blaring news had reached us minutes away, that our Big Chief Tootie "Allison" Montana had fallen from a heart attack presenting right before the New Orleans City Council Chambers about the abuse upon Mardi Gras Indians by NOPD. The whole room transformed as tams popped and chants began - I fell in, next to her. And at the historical Funeral Procession/ Second line July 9th, #YPH Queen was the transcendental Spirit that brought reverence and a smile to the day -- Mama Djaara commanded "the Dance" -- She is now honored as my Dancestory of indomitable Spirit and sweet grace; A RN, Cultural Caretaker and Mardi Gras Indian Queen with Yellow Pocahontas - survived by 2 Adult children, grands, Family members Cultural community & wealthy legacy of #Dance Spirit -- TRUST I shall #Dance higher. ~Love and sweet ease to Sis Zakiya & Family, Commune+Unity & affected kinship.

~R. Califa Calloway
Nzo Califa Dance Works
Congo SQ West Kinship Society

Kumbuka Dancers & Congo Square Commune+Unity lifts up kinship member Sis Zakiya
photo cr: Peter Nakhid

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