Members of the African American Dance Ensemble perform. They will hosting a performance Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. at the Dunn Center.
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Members of the African American Dance Ensemble perform. They will hosting a performance Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. at the Dunn Center.

Dance ensemble to perform at the Dunn Center

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In celebration of Black History Month, The African American Dance Ensemble will provide a performance for the community at the N.C. Wesleyan College Dunn Center for the Performing Arts on Feb. 5 at 6 p.m.

The AADE offers a variety of programs and special events. They currently conduct national and international touring, concerts, workshops and residencies.

The sponsors of this program are Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Chi Omega and Tau Gamma Chapters, the Maria V. Howard Arts Center, The City of Rocky Mount, Rocky Mount Area Association of Realtors, N.C. Wesleyan College, North End Missionary Baptist Church, Conetoe Chapel Missionary Baptist Church and Melvin Mitchell Agency. The members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority engage in service programs and focus on middle school girls in an effort to enrich them with leadership skills, character building and educational skills. They sponsor cultural arts programs, such as the dance ensemble, through collaboration and partnerships with others. The organization also provides scholarships to young women in area high schools with the support of Ivy Incorporated Foundation.

AADE’s mission is to preserve and share the traditions of African and African American Dance and Music through research, education, performance and entertainment – to focus on the health and education of the community. Their purpose is to help youth become more active through dance and the arts. With the motto “Peace, Love, Respect for Everybody” the ensemble celebrates traditional African culture, aesthetics and values to encourage cross-cultural dialogue, cooperation and understanding.

The story of the AADE begins with its founder, Chuck Davis, a native of Raleigh. His path began at Raleigh’s Ligon High School through Howard University’s Theater and Dance Program, eventually leading him to New York City and the world of professional dance.

Davis’ artistic connection with African Dance began with a performance of the Sierra Leone National Dance Company at the New York World’s Fair in 1964. Study in Africa became a goal for him. His opportunity came in 1977 when the Chuck Davis Dance Company participated in FESTAC, an international exposition and celebration of African culture, held in Lagos, Nigeria. Each year since, he has returned to the continent for further study of traditional dance styles and music.

Each season from 1980 to 1984 the Chuck Davis Dance Company was in residence with the American Dance Festival’s Community Services Program and each season the number of participants in this outreach program grew. By 1983, it had become obvious that there was a developing core of local dancers whose levels of proficiency were approaching those of the professionals from whom they were learning. The African American Dance Ensemble was born. The ensemble’s “arrival” was in February 1984 when they gave their first full concert as an independent professional company. In the 1985 season of the American Dance Festival, the AADE stood on its own and took its place among the other established companies when it premiered two new Chuck Davis works, “Saturday Night, Sunday Morning,” and “Drought,” both of which were commissioned by the American Dance Festival. 

Groups, as well as individuals, are invited to attend. For further information on this performance, call 252-458-1166.