Last year's turnout was far superior, but the musical offerings were no less ear-pleasing. From the spoken-word soulfulnesss of Racqel Jones to the pulsating energy of SkyGrass (above) to the breezy melodiousness of Stephanie, festivalgoers got a fascinating tour through uptempo/midtempo/slow groove styles, with adequately compelling vocals and instrumentation to hold it all together.
Unsurprisingly, an excerpt from the recent hit play Thicker Than Water found itself in the mix. The fast-rising cohort Tribe Sankofa also put in a performance, as well as on the-rise-troupe Tableaux, which got its start at Ardenne High some years ago. Then there was the youthful UmoWeb Technique ensemble (above), comprised of recent School of Drama grads, who closed off the evening with their provocative piece, hinged on a call-to-action for "ending violence against men and boys" Though the piece sometimes lost its way, its hard-hitting look at stigma and discrimination and sexuality could hardly be timelier.
Tamara Thomas conducted a lively workshop, with a handful of festivalgoers, in West African dance (her area of expertise), complete with a handful of drummers and a modest-sized audience on hand to take it all in. "I'm always available to share my gifts and talents," she said of accepting the invite from the festival's organizers to do the workshop. The seasoned dancer-choreographer adds that she will be launching a youth dance ensemble in the coming weeks. "It's a collaboration with Roktowa," she offers. "It will start as classes, but I want to make it performance ready."