The DanceAfrica festivals, put on by the Dance Center of Columbia College, have always been high-energy affairs; often it seems the audience wants to dance too. And occasionally that’s happened–a child will jump out of the audience during a drum jam to dance next to the lead drummer. In these traditional pieces the dancers often adopt a low, almost crouching posture in the middle of a circle of drummers who play continually through the performance; sometimes the men whirl into the air in wild leaps, and the women sink to the ground in contortionist moves. Singing and instrumental music, perhaps on a wooden flute or stringed instrument, rounds out most troupes’ performances. As in the last two festivals, Chuck Davis once again acts as griot–greeter and master of ceremonies–introducing the four troupes and bringing the audience together with chants and clapping as if they were a village gathering. All four troupes authentically re-create tribal dances. ODADDA! focuses on Ghanaian dance and features the Ga drummers; the group performed at one of Clinton’s inauguration events. The Memory of African Culture Performing Company covers many parts of Africa, while Sabar Ak Ru Afriq (whose name means “Drum and Spirit of Africa Society” in the Wollof language) brings traditional dances from Senegal and the surrounding areas. Chicago’s S.P.I.R.I.T.S. offers “authentic ancient and contemporary African magic.” Friday and Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 3 at the Medinah Temple, 600 N. Wabash; $12-$16. Call 271-7928 or 902-1500 for tickets.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jerry Vezuzo.