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Afrika Eye begins countdown to festival with dance and music workshops for all

Afrika Eye - the South West’s biggest celebration of African cinema and culture – is offering more ways for local people to explore the continent’s dance, music and food traditions as part of the countdown to a full weekend of screenings and events at Bristol’s Watershed, November 10 - 12.

As well as running family friendly workshops in African dance, story-telling, mask and circus skills throughout the festival weekend, Afrika Eye 2017 is also sharing the spirit of Africa through a series of pre-festival events including a drumming workshop for half-term holidaying children and an evening of film and dance led by an age-defying 82-year-old who wants more elders to start ‘shaking their booty’.

The pre-festival programme opens on Saturday 14 October with the inspirational Latisha Cesar leading a free workshop in Haitian and Afro-Caribbean dance (2pm to 3.30pm) - complete with swirling skirts to wear - in the performance foyer at Colston Hall.

The action continues with two rhythm & drumming workshops on Thursday 26 October led by master African drummers, Rubba and Kirby, aboard the Bristol ferry boat ‘Matilda’ – one happening from 4.30pm – 5.20pm for children,; the other from 6.30pm – 7.30 pm for adults.

Next up comes a high energy drumming & dance workshop at Colston Hall on Saturday 28 October (2pm) where the irrepressible Idrissa Camara, from Guinea Conokry, and friends will share the expressive dance traditions of his home country – traditions also being taken into local schools and getting showcased in a free performance on Afrika Eye’s opening night in Watershed’s bar.

On Tuesday 31 October the pre-festival programme moves to the Trinity Centre, Trinity Road, Easton, with a 7pm short film and Latino dance class with the charismatic South African Elsa Perez, 82 and eager to get other elders on the dance floor.

The pre-festival dance programme concludes at the Trinity Centre on Thursday 2 November at 7.00pm with Rachael Nanyonjo’s film ‘Amazina’ looking at the roots of Ugandan dance, followed by a Q&A and contemporary dance workshop inspired by the dance styles and traditions of Uganda.

Plans are also in hand for cookery classes with Najat Hussein & Negla Abdul Hadi, who will be sharing the culinary secrets of Eritrea and Sudan on dates and at venues still being confirmed.

In addition, more chances to participate will be on offer alongside film screenings, Q&As and debates during Afrika Eye’s Watershed weekend. Options include a family-friendly West African dance, music and stories session with Ballet Nimba (Guinea); an animation class for children with Andy Symanowski;  a circus skills and Afro-dance workshop for children and families led by Moses Oyipo (Kenya), and an African mask making event for all ages led by Oluwa Shittu (Nigeria). 

Festival director Annie Menter says:  “We’re delighted to be expanding our community programme this year through the generous support of Arts Council England, allowing us to take not just film but cultural events led by artists of African heritage into the wider Bristol community. We are offering audiences uplifting and enriching experiences in music, dance, story-telling and the culinary arts from countries as far apart as Haiti, Guinea Conokry, South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria, Sudan, Eritrea and Kenya. Several of these artists are based in Bristol, highlighting the diversity of talent within our multicultural city and giving Afrika Eye 2017 the chance to let everyone experience it!!”

Full details of the Afrika Eye 2017 programme can be found at www.afrikaeye.org.uk or see www.watershed.co.uk.uk for information on the Afrika Eye screenings and events it is hosting. Afrika Eye news is also available via the Afrika Eye Film Festival Facebook page; @AfrikaEyeFest account on Twitter/Instagram and from the festival’s widely circulating free flyers/brochures.

Afrika Eye is run by a not-for-profit organisation with the much appreciated help of funding from Arts Council England, the BFI, and The Morel Trust 

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