Batoto Yetu’s repertoire of performances consists of traditional dances from Angola and the Congo and are inspired by the historical events, fables, and rituals of those regions. Our productions are choreographed, designed, and staged with the goal of igniting curiosity from both the dancers and audience about African history, mysticism, and culture—all the while preserving endangered traditional dances of Southwestern and Central Africa’s ethnic groups. The participants of Batoto Yetu’s programs have performed alongside legends like Whitney Houston, Harry Belafonte, and Michael Jackson, as well as on prestigious stages, including Carnegie Hall, the Apollo Theatre, Jacob’s Pillow, and the Kennedy Center. These exciting opportunities are transformative for our young artists, many who were once shy and insecure. The extraordinary opportunities to perform to their communities and on stages around the world teach our artists that with effort and dedication, anything is possible.
Our productions range in scope and scale from the Birth of Nzinga—an epic story of a renowned princess who became a “king” of Matamba in the 16 century, to our December holiday celebration, which brings African culture to socially and economically underserved communities, including over 200 homeless children in New York City. In February we celebrate Black History month with a production that connects African children to their cultural and historical heritage. Going forward, both the holiday celebration and black history month performances will be held at Aaron Davis Hall and presented in partnership with City College of New York.
Our current production, Signs of Change, will premiere in Aspen this summer as part of a collaboration with the Aspen Sante Fe Ballet. This elaborate and fully charged production pays tribute to the human rights heroes who have fought for social justice and racial equality worldwide. Our spectacular and kinetic focus on African heritage confers an understanding of identity and cultural appreciation on our young artists and audience members that we believe has no parallel in the traditional classroom experience.