Get ready to move and groove in your seat.

Various Queens troupes will unite to celebrate Kwanzaa at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center on Sunday, Dec. 8, starting at 7 p.m. Scheduled for 3.5 hours, the event will center on Kwanzaa’s seven principles with tremendous expositions of African, Caribbean, and Urban dance, followed by a feast and an interchange of gifts.

Performers include members of the Queensborough Community College Dance Program, the Kofago Dance Ensemble, Rhythm ’N Dance, and maybe even the audience every now and then. Participants can expect a lot of drumming and reflections along with poetry, discussion, candles and colorful outfits.

Ticket prices are $25 in advance, but $30 at the door. Students pay $20, while seniors and children under age eight can attend for $15.

Kwanzaa is an annual, multi-day ritual that honors the African-American community’s African heritage. Running from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, 2020, it honors one tenet each day over an entire week. The principles are listed first in Swahili, a Bantu language from East Africa, in the following paragraph.

  • Umoja or unity in the family and community;
  • Kujichagulia or self-determination;
  • Ujima or collective work and responsibility to solve problems;
  • Ujamaa or cooperative economics;
  • Nia or purpose;
  • Kuumba or creativity to make the community more beautiful; and
  • Imani or faith in parents, teachers, leaders and other community members.

California State University Long Beach Africana Studies Department Chair Maulana Karenga established Kwanzaa in 1966. An activist in the Black Power movement at the time, the professor created the word from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which translates into English as “first fruits of the harvest.”

The Jamaica Performing Arts Center, which seats about 400 people a time, is located at 153-10 Jamaica Ave. It’s near the Jamaica Center-Parsons/Archer station for the J and Z trains. On-street parking is limited, but there are a few private lots in the immediate vicinity.

Editor’s note: A few blocks away inside Roy Wilkins Park at 117th Street and Baisley Boulevard, the Black Spectrum Theatre will present “’Twas the Night Before Kwanzaa” four times this weekend: Dec. 6 at 8 p.m.; Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. at 8 p.m.; and Dec. 8 at 4 p.m. Written by Carl Clay, who founded the performance venue in 1970, this comedic musical follows Santa Claus after his usual Christmas route is diverted to Kwanzaaland.

Images: Queensborough Community College Dance Program (above); Kofago Dance Ensemble (below)


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