Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Afropop to go Hip Deep with the BaAka "Pygmies"

In December, I will be producing the first program of Afropop's 6th season of Hip Deep. As many know, we recently received a new NEH grant to support a new round of these totally unique, mind-blowing programs. This time around, we'll be doing a lot more blogging and outreach as we produce, so you will have a much more detailed view of what is going on in Hip Deep land.  Coming up, shows on Columbia, Brazil, jazz, Angola, Egypt, electronica, Nollywood, and so much more...

But first up will be "Seizing the Dance," a program about the BaAka (pronounced bee-AH-kah) people of the Central African Republic.  The program, which will first air during the third week of December, showcases the work of Michelle Kisliuk of the University of Virginia.  Michelle has spent a lot of time in Central Africa, going back to the mid-80s.  A key aspect of Michelle's work is her commitment to participation.  She has learned to sing and dance among the BaAka, and does so expertly.  Heck, she even married one of her CAR research assistants.  Talk about commitment to the subject!

But seriously, Michelle believes you can't understand this kind of cultural music without experiencing it directly, and a huge part of her work has been teaching people to sing the amazing polyphony of Central Africa's forest peoples.  I have seen her do this with a group of uninitiated singers and it is remarkable.  In fact, as part of our Hip Deep production we will video Michelle in action with a group of singers and post a video allowing all of you to sing like the BaAka at home.  Naturally, if any of you have experience with this kind of music you want to share, or ideas for our program, don't hold back.  More to come.

Banning Eyre
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