News & Politics

Last Dance: Little Africa Closes Its Doors


Last night, Djoniba Mouflet gave his last dance and drum class at the studio he founded 16 years ago. Djoniba Dance $ Drum Centre, named after the Senegalese dance master, was the city’s first cultural center dedicated to Pan-African dance and music. But like many other arts spaces, it can no longer afford to pay Manhattan rent.

For years, the studio, on the sixth floor of a Chelsea office building, was a Little Africa — not only a workplace for immigrant African musicians but a second home.

As a practical matter, you could learn popular Haitian and Brazilian dances dedicated to African deities for $15.

Other studios already forced out by higher rents include Fazil’s, a Times Square dance studio whose wood floors were worn in by the likes of Alvin Ailey and Savion Glover, and the Paul Taylor Dance Company, a Soho institution pushed aside for a Banana Republic.

And now that the City Council has approved Mayor Bloomberg’s property tax hike, the squeeze will only tighten.

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