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


Formig√£o: 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~