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Nimely Napla, former director of the Liberian National Cultural Troupe, is collaborating with Dimensions Dance Theater (Dimensions) to create Dai Zoe Bush — The Breaking of the Poro & Sande Bush, based in in the ceremonial dance rhythms of the Vai and Gola people from Liberia’s remote Grand Cape Mount County.

The work will incorporate African American cultural practices with Liberian storytelling. Its performance will bring together internationally recognized Liberian dancers and musicians with dancers from Dimensions’ professional company and young participants from Dimensions’ Rites of Passage educational program. Dai Zoe Bush will represent the ceremonial opening of the Bush schools, which provide young people with support, direction, and spiritual connection to ancestors.

The performance will incorporate elaborate, sacred, full-body masks that embody divine spirits. Representing these masks is considered a sacred privilege and requires special permission, which Napla has obtained from appropriate elders. Nimely himself is one of only six people living in the United States who is initiated and allowed to make the masks, regalia, and dances representing these societies.

Since its founding in 1972, Dimensions has been dedicated to preserving and perpetuating dance of the African diaspora through dance education, creating mainstage productions, and producing communal events that uplift African American communities in Oakland and the Bay Area. This new work will premiere in October 2020.