Since the founding of Dance Africa in 1993 by Rita Honka and Kouessan Gabriel Abaglo, the company has dedicated itself to celebrating the rich traditions of African dance, music and culture in and around the area of Eugene, Oregon. This diverse group of dancers, drummers and singers take their love and knowledge of African dance tradition and share it with the surrounding community. Dance Africa brings internationally known artists from many African cultural groups to campus throughout the year. During the exhilarating Artist-in-Residency week at the University of Oregon, guest artists teach dance and drumming classes, give lecture-demonstrations, and choreograph a new performance piece for the company. The week culminates with a lively performance by the company dancing alongside these master performing artists. This exciting week, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., kicks off Dance Africa's season and annual school tour.
Dance Africa's touring season focuses on area elementary, middle and high schools, and reaches nearly 3000 schoolchildren every year. The company has become a unique part of the African Studies curriculum in many of these schools, with its interactive performance of traditional music, song and dance representing diverse African cultural groups. The company complements its performance by leading lessons in African geography, musical instrumentation and rhythms, storytelling, history, and culture.
Dance Africa has an additional objective of working with artists from a variety of African ethnic groups both in the classroom and in performance. They have hosted concerts and residencies with internationally known African performing artists such as Mabiba Baegne and Massengo Constant (Congo), Youssouf Koumbassa and Mamadouba Camara (Guinea), Maputo and Mawuenyega Mensah (Ghana), Julia Chigamba and Duncan Allard (Zimbabwe), Lucky Moyo and Loveness Wesa (Zimbabwe), Mandjou and Salif Kone (Mali/Burkina Faso).
Since 1995, Dance Africa and the University of Oregon Department of Dance have hosted performances by The Women Drummers of Guinea, the Cuban dance company Conjunto Folklorico Omo Addara, dancer and musician Chief Makungula of the Zomba District, Malawi, and twice hosted Les Ballets Africains, the national company of Guinea.