When larger-than-life dancer-choreographer Chuck Davis received the silver bowl honoring him at the Dance Magazine Awards last month, he commanded the audience to rise up, let out a big cheer, and hug their neighbors. He’s 67 years old and nearly seven feet tall; you’d be a fool to argue with him. Davis has a lot to be ecstatic about, including his baby, DanceAfrica, opening its 27th season on Friday. This year’s theme is “A Dancer’s Path: Ancient Traditions, Modern Trends.”
“The whole idea is to explore traditional African dance and how all the other dance forms have been inspired and energized by it,” Davis said from his home in North Carolina. In 1977 he founded the annual culture fest in Brooklyn; today copycat versions go on in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Davis’s company, three drummers and 11 dancers whose repertory spans the continent of Africa, shares the stage with Ghana-based Nii Tettey Tetteh and his Kusun Ensemble performing their “Nokoko” style, African stilt performer Shaka Zulu, and others in four spirited shows. A free African bazaar and sculpture garden are open from Saturday through Monday.