By Kristi Casey Sanders
Who are you? The National Black Arts Festival (NBAF) wants to know.
DNA testing will be available at the festival, to encourage attendees to trace their ancestry and discover their African roots.
“Open dialogue and focus on DNA is a great point of intersection for all people,” says NBAF Executive Producer Stephanie Hughley. “It crosses all races, cultures and ages and is universal. We hope this project will motivate people to want to discover and embrace their cultural past and spark discussion on the importance of knowing where we came from, and how it influences where we are going.”
The theme for the festival was inspired by a multi-media work NBAF commissioned from visual artist Radcliffe Bailey, choreographer Fatima Robinson and musician/singer Marc Anthony Thompson. The three artists began their collaboration by using DNA technology from AfricanAncestry.com to see if they had common ancestry. When they discovered they did, in Sierra Leone, they traveled to Senegal and began research on what became In the Reternal, playing at the Clark Atlanta University Art Galleries through July 29.
During the festival, NBAF and AfricanAncestry.com will conduct DNA tests on a select group of notable Atlantans, including civil rights leaders, politicians, clergy, entertainers, entrepreneurs and sports figures. Results will be announced later this month.
Theater highlights of the festival include Dreamgirls , starring Jennifer Holliday; a theatrical adaptation of Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye ; and a Kenny Leon-directed production of Emergence-SEE. Other highlights include gallery crawls through Downtown and the West End; musical performances by Roberta Flack and South African jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim; a Global Soul jam session with Les Nubians, Julie Dexter and Vinx; dance from the Creative Outlet Dance Theatre of Brooklyn; the Pan African Film Festival; and a NBAF Children’s Education Village. The festival concludes on July 29.
For more information, schedules, directions and tickets, visit nbaf.org , or call 404-730-7315.