Saturday, March 30, 2019

I AM LEGACY: Bay Area Congolese Dance and Drum

nzoCALIFA-- de: R. Califa, Creative Director: Today, I'm Dancing in Spirit of the legacy of Saturday Congolese Dance Class held at the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts. Saturday Classes represents an over 25 year legacy, pioneered by the legendary Malonga Casquelourd.  From Brazza, to New York, it was after his East Palo, California foundation of building, he continued to carve Congolese Dance and Drum Cultural pathways, rooted in Oakland, Bay Area, California. And his Nzo  then, was Everybody's Creative Arts Center founded by Dance luminary Halifu Osumare, and was one of my first Dance training studios. The Historic YWCA building on Webster Street and across the way at the Old Caribee Dance Center, became satellite hubs for Ta Malonga's Congolese Dance Class.  And we continued to Dance right alongside him.

Welcome Home Muisi-kongo Malonga!
After a 5 year teaching hiatus at the Center, Muisi returns 
to teach a special Congolese Dance Class hosted by Ms. Leslie Carter, 
Founder of the African Queens Youth Troupe, Thursday, March 21, 2019
Save these dates: FREE Congolese Dance Classes w/ Muisi-kongo Malonga
Thursday, April 25th  - 6P-7:30P - Malonga Center, Oakland in kinship w/ Ms. Leslie Carter 
Sunday April 28th  - 3:30P-5:00P - Muhammad Ali Cultural Center, East Palo Alto*
*in part of Bay Area Dance Week, Register here:

As the "state of the Arts" Alice Arts building saw its re-emergence in 1987 with "great promise" and did see a great deal of "claim to fame",  Artistic stakes were set firm in the building by Anchor tenant Arts organizations, including Citicentre Dance Theatre.  Citicentre's role maintained a stronghold to advance Multi-Cultural/Ethnic Arts excellence and Ambassadorship.  After the expiration of the Citicentre Dance Theatre institution, key Artists from the Alice Arts Center "locked arms" to form a coalition, including Oakland Activists, Community Leaders and aligned agencies; all on mission, to keep the building out of the grasp of then Mayor Jerry Brown.

     One victory would lead to an untimely tragedy with the death of Ta Malonga, in June 2003; yet the Saturday legacy class prospered on, until its cataclysmic expiration in the Fall of 2017. As swift changing tides of discord would disembowel the very core of this Community, an enforced yet necessary hiatus has since covered the cherished time and space -- still under review and guided resolution with transformation underway...ALL a process, and necessary -- Nevertheless.

How is it that I can write this post in one sweep, with effortless flow? - it's because I'm a witness, and have been a dedicated Student, Participant, Builder, Activist, Creative, Director, Community Caretaker and now Gatekeeper of this Commune+Unity; Although an abridged version, I write this of good Spirit and from MY lens...

I AM LEGACY of the Saturday Congolese Dance and Drum Classes at the Historic Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts. And as an Alumnus, this DANCER and DRUMMER can't stop, won't stop! Bay Area Congolese Dance and Drum traditions, shall be UPLIFTED...HAMBA!

~Diata, Diata

What Ta Malonga Casquelourd, used to say 

Fua Dia Congo Company motto:
"Wa Dia Fua Yika Dio"

Nzo Califa Dance Works


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Dance Pillars Talk: Black Arts Movement

"It's a Commitment: Two Dance Scholars in Dialogue" 

nzoCALIFA -- It started back in 2016, at a studio on the campus of University of California, Davis, where Dr Brenda Dixon Gottschild and Dr Halifu Osumare  met to talk bout their careers as Dancers and Dance Scholars. In the wake of technological advancement and social media, the wisdom of these Pioneers continue to transcend -- the result is that a PODCAST evolved.  Listen UP, as these Pioneering Agents, weigh in on the air waves, sharing their unique perspectives about the Black Arts Movement on the East and West Coasts. And the conversation lives on the Contemporary Black Canvas platform. 

Please share this all important #Dance News and click on the link provided below

  • special thanks to network kinship @khadijahkee

// @nzoCALIFA / #giveDANCE

Saturday, March 16, 2019

nzoCALIFA: Spring Dance SPRINT - MARCH Moves

@nzoCALIFA Dance Works has been on the move, in the field, conducting sessions and cultivating Dance leadership building, bringing it back all around in FULL CIRCLE. We are ever so pleased to catch this on our live wire - powerFULL #Dance Transformation Agents we've worked with, learned from and have invoked #Dance in shared kinship.
Our Dance is vital and the Commissioned who teach it are invaluable agents in the service. Bay Area get Dancing and make it mean something more.  And we'll be back sooner  ~Regina Califa

Thursday, March 7, 2019

nzoCALIFA - Mardi Gras Oakland 2019



PLAY MAS,                                

nzoCALIFA -- The 2019 Season bursts through this year's global pre-lenten fête with creative fire, Artistic movement as pulse Carnaval cities usher their Greatest Show On Earth. As a Carnavalesca for 30 years + whether a participant or not, the Spirit of the season dwells within you. I remain still amazed by not only the crowing achievements of the Krewes, Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans, the Mas Camps and Jouvert mornings of Trinidad and Tobago to the Escola de Sambas, Maracatus and Bloco Afros of Brasil. Yet, my amazement focuses upon the preparation and process that produces such a feat...WOW.  

Building, creating and being a Creative in Carnaval is a phenomenal experience and speaks to the importance of legacy building as generations are "initiated" into these cultural traditions. This year, the Bay did it their way with lagniappe from New Orleans coin-phrased in its 4th year as Mardi Gras Oakland -- presented by New Orleans natives, The Oakland Secondline Project in partnership with MJ's Brass Boppers; Now residing as Bay, YOU ALREADY KNOW they keeps it BUCK, as Oakland comes thru Yea-Bay ALLLL ON A MARDI GRAS DAY!

The BOOM of the Bay, Boom Shake Music 
invokes their WATER theme and the Universe responds with 
RAIN as the beat goes on! ~vid clip: @nzoCALIFA

Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday Celebration in Oakland, CA
No rain stopping this parade, cuz the BRASS played on!

Laissez les bon temps rouler - Let the Good times 
ROLL throughout the year! 2019 sho' you right!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

nzoCALIFA brings tha Beats and Flow with Boom Shake

nzoCALIFA-- The Winter Season ushered the inspiration of WATER this past program session for Boom Shake Music.  An esteemed opportunity to serve as Guest Instructor for the 
Monday Class, a  Drum Workshop for  WOMXN/TRANS/GNC lead by Instructor and Camara,  Monica H. Smith presented to be a dynamic experience.  Guided, we first explore WATER tributaries reflective of the pathways and experiences of our lives and cited these liquid bodies by name; 
An impressive roster formed listing locations and bodies of Water, in their respective language.

In the rhythm section: 
Drawing from an earlier Teaching experience to BSM's Women of Color class a few years ago, I re-introduced works of a 5-bell pattern practice-play: agogo, cow, and bongo based on a Candomble rhythm known as IJEXA. Students learned that in Afro Brasilian Spirituality this rhythm is steeped in African traditions, named for its origins from IJESHA, Nigeria among the Yoruba/Nago peoples.  It is also known to be the rhythm for the Yoruba Orisa, Oxum [Ọṣun, Oshun, Ochun] the sweet river water force bearing wisdom of self love, self worth and of wealth and prosperity; Oxum energy is indeed the  embodiment of the creative flow.

Set with intention and inspiration, Students were also taught 4 separate complimenting patterns  played for Ijesha, drawing from Afro Cuban Lucumi Spiritual traditions known as "Iyessa", and accented with select Rumba cow bell; Primary influence included "Agogo Orisha" of Osogbo, Ọṣun State Nigeria.  Each pattern layered as an accompaniment to the composition, either serving as time keeper, a counter-accent or funky syncopation, all grounded by the double-bell agogo melodic pattern as played in Brasil.

Dare we added a "bateria orchestration" leaning more upon Bloco Afro form, attempting to play with the finesse of Afoxe style; This approach was signature to one of the Bay Area's legendary Bateria Directors,  Mestre Carlos Aceituno[iba'e] Mestre Aceituno hailed from music conservatories of Guatemala and San Francisco, and was an early member of the pioneering Escola de Samba Batucaje'; Mestre also Founded trailblazing legacy of Fogo Na Roupa Grupo Carnavalesco established in 1989, now in its 30th year. His Teaching virtuosity was an unique experience in Music Education and Community Drum. Influenced by Music Artist luminaries from Carlos Santana to Carlinhos Brown, Mestre Carlos too was a talented composer of incomparable musicianship and performance quality. Pleased to hail from these halls as an Alumnus and prospering agent of this grand legacy. Axe Fogo, Ire'0 nzoCALIFA

And the Monday class yielded an impressive playback in only its 1st session.

Obrigada Monday Class, amazing Spirit & Drum force mediums of service.
Special thanks to Boom Shake's leadership & the vital lens of @lupelunada promise to an exciting Season of creative expression. ~com muito Axe'

R. Califa / @nzoCALIFA
Nzo Califa Dance Works