By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Today was the debut of  DanceAfrica Philadelphia, a four-day celebration of contemporary African culture.

“DanceAfrica is about so much more than wonderful dancing,” says Theresa Shockley, executive director of the Community Education Center (CEC), 3500 Lancaster Avenue, in West Philadelphia.

She says DanceAfrica was started 36 years ago by Charles “Baba Chuck” Davis in Brooklyn, NY, and has launched in six cities across the country.

And now it is in Philadelphia.

“The idea of it is to bring the culture forward and to preserve African dance and culture and to teach lifelong learning experiences,” says Shockley.

The celebration begins with a round-table discussion, “African Dance in America: Reclaiming, Embodying, and Dialoging With Traditions,” on Wednesday evening at 7pm at the CEC, featuring members of the local African dance and drumming community.

Dr. Kariamu Welsh from Temple University will lead the discussion.

On Thursday, DanceAfrica will host a free exhibition, “Honoring Ancestors of Rhythm, Movement, and Place,” at the Philadelphia Folklore Project, 735 South 50th Street, in West Philadelphia.

On Friday and Saturday, the event will include an African marketplace, workshops, and performances at Drexel University.  Kùlú Mèlé African Dance and Drum Ensemble and Kariamu and Company are among the performers.

Tickets range from $5 to $25.  For more information, go to

Top Content On CBSPhilly