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“Bakanal de Afrique: What Had Happened Was…” is a dance-theater performance piece, guided by the title’s question, that asks people of the diaspora to reflect on a specific moment in their lives and to create a story about that moment.

Choreographer and performer Nkeiruka Oruche collaborated with Dance Brigade’s Dance Mission Theater alongside vocalist Tossie Long, musician Nate Cameron, director Michael French, anthropologist Ugo Edu, and poet Teju Adisa-Farrar. They gathered narratives based on the question and developed an evening-length show that incorporateed movement, storytelling, and media.

Dance Mission Theater is an established cultural institution in the heart of San Francisco with a roster of more than 20 teaching and performing artists of African descent, but it is more strongly identified with feminist and Latinx arts. Collaborating with Oruche pushes the organization to question how it also can serve black communities authentically.

A Nigerian of Igbo descent, Nkeiruka Oruche is a multidisciplinary producer and performer specializing in the expressions of urban culture of the African Diaspora and its intersections with personal identity, public health, and sociopolitical action. She co-founded BoomShake, a community organization that uses street drumming as a tool for cultural survival and social justice, and she is the artistic director of Afro Urban Society, a meeting place for urban African art, culture, and people. “Wey You Dey?” will premiere at Dance Mission Theater in November 2018.

Photo by Aron Wojack