Savannah Black Heritage Festival Opens With Dance

Dayton Contemporary Dance Company - Photo by Scott Robbins
Dayton Contemporary Dance Company – Photo by Scott Robbins
“Celebrating the Dynamics of Cultures and Shared Experiences” is the central theme of the Savannah Black Heritage Festival scheduled for February 1-18, 2018. Cultural education and exposure to the performing and visual arts, as well as ethnic cuisine and crafts are offered for all ages and interests throughout the celebration.

Included on the schedule are national and regional musicians of many genres, dance performances, local youth talent showcases, historic tours, visual art exhibitions by internationally acclaimed and local artists, the W.W. Law Lecture, spoken word and dramatic productions.

In addition, educational opportunities are provided through a health and wellness fair, a health walk, culinary arts activities and youth programs.

Opening the 29th festival is a performance from the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC). The company comes to Savannah as part of its Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) initiative, a tour that showcases works of dance by leading choreographers of color. The premiere evening performance will be held Friday, February 2, 7:30 p.m., Johnny Mercer Theater. This performance is free and open to the public, and admission tickets will not be required. Seating will be on a first-come, first-seated basis. There will be a limited reserved-seat section for military families and seniors; however, these seats will be released 10 minutes prior to curtain call.

DCDC artistic director Debbie Blunder Diggs, will engage the community with a public conversation Thursday, February 1, 6:30 p.m., on SSU’s campus, highlighting African American cultural and historical influences upon dance choreography. In addition, the ensemble will conduct school and community dance workshops during their visit, February 1-3. This program is supported in part by The Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA) through appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly. GCA is a Partner Agency for the National Endowment of the Arts.

The Earl Shinhoster Youth Leadership Institute will facilitate its sixth annual youth forum, “Continuing the Legacy of Community Leadership,” on Saturday, February 3, the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum. The Bright Star Children’s Touring Theatre will return and present multiple performances of their new productions, many of which address Savannah leadership’s new strategic plans for poverty reduction, economic development and public safety. Performances and workshops include Choices: The Game Show of Life, FrankenSTEM, Freedom Songs, and Yes, and… ?: Improvisational Lessons for Life.

Also on the schedule is the Ninth Annual Future of Jazz legacy concert featuring young jazz instrumentalists and vocalists who are enrolled in music programs from middle school to graduate school. The concert will be the fifth performed in tribute to the late Ben Tucker.

Grand Festival Day, a family-fun event packed with activities and top entertainment, will be held at the Savannah Civic Center on Saturday, February 10. The annual gospel concert, featuring top artists, will be held Sunday, February 11.

The 2018 festival will be the 19th one produced by Savannah State University. All festival events and activities are free of admission and open to the public. Updates and details available at, or by calling 912-358-4309.

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