From the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House stage, BAM President Katy Clark, Trustee Richard Feldman, Chuck Davis, artistic director emeritus of DanceAfrica, and Abdel R. Salaam, artistic director of DanceAfrica, awarded Opare with the certificate of the Fellowship. Feldman said that the Fellowship, jointly established by BAM and the SHS Foundation, is to recognize Baba Chuck’s three-decades-plus contribution in steering the DanceAfrica Festival and to expand his legacy beyond the Festival.
Kwame Opare (KWA-mee oh-PAR-ee), is a Washington, DC native who also claims Brooklyn as home. He has a master of fine arts degree in dance from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a long history in West African dance, starting when he was 14 years old at the Kankouran West African Dance Company. In 1998 Opare began touring with the Broadway show STOMP where he attained the lead role and became one of the company's rehearsal directors. He founded the DishiBem Traditional Contemporary Dance Group in 2003 to bridge the gap between traditional West African and contemporary performance modes. Opare has received numerous awards for his creations which speak to social issues around the world, including a Katherine Dunham Award for Best New Choreography for Suite Nina which he choreographed, with Diedre Dawkins, for Muntu Dance Theater Chicago. In the summer of 2014 he traveled to Ghana as a guest teacher of the National Ballet of Ghana. With the Fellowship, he will return to Ghana to build on relationships with the National Ballet, collaborate with other Ghanaian artists, and create new work that explores West African dance technique and aesthetics on the contemporary stage.