Da’African Village turned up the heat at Union Chapel

Da'African Village performed at the Union Chapel last Saturday. — Photo by Gwyn McAllister

Of all of the performers that have visited the Vineyard this summer, possibly the ones that travelled the farthest to bring a taste of another culture to the Island were the members of Les Enfants Du Soleil (Sons of the Sun). A group of eight dancers and four drummers from Senegal, the group presented two high-energy, colorful, and informative shows at Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs last Saturday.

The musicians and dancers, part of the cultural exchange and sustainability organization Da’African Village, are currently touring the U.S. and Canada with stops in a number of cities, including Seattle, Boston, Washington, D.C., and New York where they performed at Symphony Space.

Fortunately, the troupe took a side trip to the Vineyard where they helped raise money for the local chapter of the NAACP Youth Empowerment Program.

Master of ceremonies Mara Diakhate introduced the evening show by saying, “It’s going to be really hot in here.” And the performers certainly did turn up the heat with six sets of traditional dances featuring rapid fire drumming and adrenalized dance. The dancers changed their look for each set and the spectacle of the brilliantly hued costumes was only rivaled by the talent, energy, and joyous exuberance of the dancers, each of whom took solo turns displaying their unique styles and acrobatic skills.

In between sets, Mr. Diakhate explained the background and significance of each dance and talked about the differences among the dozens of African ethnic groups, making the shows as informative as they were entertaining. The organizers of the show hope to make the performances an annual summer event.

For more information about Da’African Village, visit daafricanvillage.com.