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Baba’s Rising Sons by Edith Berry

February 29, 2020

On the Road for TCP Magazine, I attended the 2020 Winter/Spring Master Dance Series at the Living Arts Collective in Durham, NC. The Master instructors have been under the training of the Legendary Baba Chuck Davis, and dancing for at least 30 years and more. They performed with him in the African American Dance Ensemble. They are Baba’s Rising Sons: Roberts Joila and Stafford C. Perry, Jr. They wanted to continue the legacy of Baba Chuck Davis and share with others, his legacy to soar! Well, let’s take some dance leaps down memory lane, and look into the lives of each of them.

Baba Roberts is a Griot, Dancer with the African American Dance Ensemble, formerly with the Suah African Dance Theatre, and studied Theatre at North Carolina Central University. He has also been a Step Coach at the Sallie B. Howard School of Arts and Education. His journey began 38 years ago with Baba Chuck Davis. Baba Roberts was a founding member of Baba Chuck Davis’ children’s company, Alayanye (the chosen ones). He studied with many choreographers and Masters all over the world. However, Baba Roberts moment in time was when he performed in Diego Garcia in which few inhabitants visit there. It’s located off the Indian Ocean and the Camp Justice American Naval Base is located there. He said it felt like being in paradise. Baba Roberts’ genuine personae, his love for the African culture, the dance, and instructing others, is definitely his forte!

Baba’s Rising Sons
Peace, Love, Respect for Everybody!

Baba Stafford is artist/activist, educator/scholar of African-rooted Dance, aesthetics, and theatre. He told me that he has been dancing since the womb, but professionally for 30 years. Baba Stafford toured as the Associate Artistic director of Baba Chuck Davis’ African American Dance Ensemble for 14 years. He studied in Philadelphia, New York City, North Carolina, and West Africa. Baba loved West Africa the most. He approached Baba Roberts with the idea about a year ago in a conversation, about how they could continue the legacy of Baba Chuck Davis. They were of like minds about utilizing what they were taught under Baba Chuck’s leadership for their own endeavors. It was the ultimate continuance of the legacy, and what Baba Chuck would have insisted they do. So with the calling of Baba Chuck who is now with the ancestors, the birth of Baba’s Rising Sons were born, for them to add their own voice to the story and traditions.

The Master Dance class was masterfully taught, and the energy of the mind, body and spirit was greatly felt by everyone present. We learned a feeling for the African culture, nobody felt humiliated or embarrassed if they didn’t catch on to the routine. As we prepared to take a break and close the session, we went to the floor on 1 knee, then both, and bent over in a position of obeisance, as if we were given homage to mother earth. Baba’s Rising Sons will meet once a month from now until May and then have Summer Intensive classes. The blue and red t-shirts were Baba Chuck’s favorite colors. Let the legacy continue with Baba’s Rising Sons, and as Baba Chuck would always say, “Peace, Love, Respect, for Everybody!”

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