Cultures meet on National Black Arts Festival schedule

From traditional South African gumboot dancing to the smooth moves and even smoother Philadelphia soul of the O'Jays to the popular International Marketplace in Centennial Park, the 2011 National Black Arts Festival will cover many miles of culture.

The lineup of the July 7-17 festival, centered in downtown and Midtown Atlanta, is to be formally announced Wednesday evening at an invitation-only event. Due to tight finances, the formerly 10-day-long festival was trimmed by half in 2009, a trend that continued in 2010 under the tightening focus of new president and CEO Neil Barclay. This year's festival will roll mainly over the July 15-17 weekend. Highlights include:

  • Chuck Davis, a creative force behind African dance celebrations in New York, Washington and Chicago, launches DanceAfrica! Atlanta,8 p.m. July 16 and 3 p.m. July 17 at the Rialto Center for the Arts. The concerts will feature South African contemporary dancer and choreographer Vincent Mantsoe;traditional South African gumboot dancing from LesolesDance Project; Atlanta's Giwayen Mata dance troupe interpreting works inspired by Mali, the Ivory Coast, South Africa and Guinea; and master kora player and griot Ba Cissoko.
  • The O'Jays, standouts in last year's tribute concert to the late Atlantan Curtis Mayfield, return for the 2011 Legends Celebration, 8 p.m. July 15 in Symphony Hall.
  • On the NBAF Main Stage July 15-17, the nonstop musical menu covers gospel, the blues, jazz and world music. Artists include Río Negro, Joyce Cândido, Nanny Assis, Orquesta MaCuba, Donnie, Kathleen Bertrand, Gregory Porter and Omar Sosa.

  • Highly regarded Trenton Doyle Hancock will be the subject of an ACA Gallery of SCAD exhibit opening July 7, "We Done All We Could and None of It's Good." The Houston multi-media artist is famed for works that pit good guys known as the "Mounds," colorful half animal-half plant creatures, against the evil black-and-white underground "Vegans."
  • The annual black-tie gala will be "A Salute to the Silver Screen," honoring Lena Horne and two other film personalities to be announced, 7 p.m. July 16 at the Ritz-Carlton,Buckhead.
  • "Interpretations: Black Visual Art – Past, Present and Future," a tribute to five artists to be named that also will celebrate the 100th birth anniversary of Romare Bearden, is planned for 8 p.m. July 14 at Symphony Hall.
  • Atlanta artists will be spotlighted  in several exhibits, including Lynn Marshall-Linnemeier and Freddie Styles in a works-on-paper exhibit opening July 16 at Avisca Fine Art Gallery in Marietta. And Radcliffe Bailey will speak during a 1 p.m. July 17 brunch at Table 1280 before giving a tour next door of his High Museum of Art exhibit "Memory as Medicine."
  • The International Marketplace, July 15-17 in Centennial Park, will feature more than 100 vendors and artists peddling carved-wood sculptures, handmade jewelry, colorful woven fabrics, clothing and more.

More information: www.nbaf.org