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Kulu Mele proudly supports Philadelphia’s BlackStar Film Festival

August 2 – 5, 2018 • Lightbox Film Center • Institute of Contemporary Art • Pearlstein Gallery • World Cafe Live

Kulu Mele invites you to explore the 7th Annual BlackStar Film Festival, a cinematic celebration of global Black & Brown lives, including four full days of film screenings, workshops, panel discussions, conversations!  More than 4,000 people will attend some of 80 films from four continents, engage with artists and cultural workers, participate in youth programs and more. BlackStar explores Black and Brown lives in their many manifestations, be they personal, political, social, philosophical, historical, ancestral or otherwise.  CLICK HERE for more information and to order tickets.

To watch this year’s BlackStar Film Festival trailer, CLICK HERE.

Kulu Mele E-News: July 2018

Kulu Mele receives major funding for its most ambitious production ever, to include a company residency in Santiago de Cuba 

“Ogun & the People” to debut Fall 2019

Kulu Mele is thrilled to announce that The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage has awarded Kulu Mele more than $91,000 — the second largest grant in the company’s nearly 50-year history — for major production support for “Ogun & the People,” the most ambitious work of dance theater that Kulu Mele has ever aspired to create. The show willpremiere in Fall 2019, as part of the company’s 50th anniversary season (1969 – 2019). The funding will allow Kulu Mele artistic director Dorothy Wilkie to work collaboratively with multiple artists working in various media, to create a danced version of a traditional Afro-Cuban pataki (sacred parable), based on the story of the Yoruba orisha (deity) Ogun.

Ogun is a leader, a trailblazer, and a protector of the people. In Wilkie’s “Ogun & the People,” he will be a contemporary working man who comes home exhausted and disheveled from his labors. According to legend, Ogun had a falling out with other orishas. Angry and humiliated, he retreated into the forest (alternately, he disappeared into the Earth) to live alone. Wilkie will set her choreography in this breach. Without Ogun’s presence, bad things happen: violence, war, famine. To restore balance in the world, Ogun’s people (and the other orishas) need him to return. Various orishas enter the forest and appeal to him with dance and offerings. Ogun refuses everyone’s entreaties until the orisha Oshun, representative of love and sweetness, tempts him out of the forest with honey.

Wilkie will choreograph “Ogun & the People” as a full-length narrative dance, shaping the piece during a Kulu Mele company residency in Santiago de Cuba with Ballet Folklorico Cutumba in September 2018. “Ogun & the People” will premiere in Philadelphia during Fall 2019, as Kulu Mele’s 50th anniversary production. “Ogun & the People” will be developed in a community context. Myriad Philadelphians who represent the diversity of the city will be invited to engage with the work-in-progress and to offer feedback and reflections that will inform Wilkie’s artistic development process.

Much more information about “Ogun & the People” will be shared in the weeks and months ahead.

Kulu Mele receives two-year, $40,000 grant from Samuel S. Fels Fund

Kulu Mele is delighted to announce that the Samuel S. Fels Fund has just granted Kulu Mele $40,000 over two years ($20,000 each year) for general operating support, which Kulu Mele may apply as needed to fund its programming and operations. The Samuel S. Fels Fund is a private independent foundation with a commitment to improving conditions and opportunities for marginalized communities within the City of Philadelphia. The Fels Fund provides grants to support services, advocacy and activities that move Philadelphia toward a more socially, racially and economically just society. Kulu Mele has received small grants from the Fels Fund for many years. The Fels Fund recently made changes to its arts and culture funding, to provide significantly more financial support to Philadelphia arts organizations that focus on amplifying marginalized voices, preserving/sharing cultures and identities, and/or inspiring social change. The board of directors, artists and audiences of Kulu Mele are extremely grateful for the Fels Fund’s recognition of Kulu Mele’s accomplishments, and for its incredibly generous support.

Save the date! Kulu Mele’s annual show set for Sat., Dec. 1, 2018

Kulu Mele to return to the Kurtz Center for the Performing Arts, 3000 West School House Lane

Please save Saturday, December 1, 2018 on your calendar nowto ensure that you will be part of the audience for Kulu Mele’s annual Fall home show, to feature world premieres of original dance and drumming works as well as company classics. Kulu Mele will return to the beautiful, comfortable, nearly brand-new Kurtz Center for the Performing Arts at 3000 West School House Lane, in Philadelphia’s East Falls neighborhood. Performance time and many more details TBA. Show tickets will go on sale in the Fall. Please spread the word!

Omo Kulu Mele children’s classes update

Same time, new space, starting this Fall; registration to open soon

Omo Kulu Mele African dance and drumming classes for children ages 5 to 18 will move to a new dance studio this Fall. The new location is 954 Dance Movement Collective at 954 North 8th Street, just south of Girard Avenue. 954 DMC is a dedicated dance space with a “sprung” floor (the preferred flooring for dance), at a convenient central location, with ample, free, on-street parking, climate control, mirrors, a restroom and even a small kitchen area. The studio floor will soon be renovated and renovations will be finished well before OKM classes resume in the Fall. Check out 954 DMC’s website at

Registration for the 2018-2019 school year will open in early August, 2018. Class times will remain the same: Sundays, beginning Sept. 9, 2018; 1:30 – 2:30 for dance students age 5 to 9 and ALL drum students; and 2:45 to 3:45 for dance students age 9 and up. (Parents of 9 year-olds may decide which class is the best fit.)

Upcoming Events

Thursday, July 5, from 7:30 to 9:00 pm, Kulu Mele will present the next “First Thursday” dance and drumming class for adults 16+, at Community Education Center,3500 Lancaster Ave. Watch Kulu Mele’s Facebook page for updates about First Thursday programming. Admission is $10 per person, cash only, exact change appreciated.

Sunday, July 29, Kulu Mele will travel to Roundtrip Mountain Resot in Lewisberry, PA, for an 11:00 am performance at the Susquehanna Folk Festival.

Everything DANCE in Philly

Looking for dance classes? Performances? Auditions & more? is a treasure trove of resources for dancers, choreographers, students, teaching artists, teachers & dance fans in Philadelphia. also is home to The Dance Journal, an e-zine featuring articles by many of Philly’s best dance writers & critics. Browse & search for free or join to support it. Membership starts as low as $10 per year. Kulu Mele is proud to be an organizational member of

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Kulu Mele performs at Jacob's Pillow.
Highlights from Celebrating Senegal, the all-new show that Kulu Mele premiered at the Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia, during November, 2015
Hip hop encore at Jacob's Pillow.
Omo Kulu Mele children's show, June 6, 2015
Kulu Mele performance as part of the Pope's visit to Philadelphia, September 26, 2015
Kulu Mele performance as part of the Come Together Dance Festival in Philadelphia, July, 2015
Kulu Mele dancer Tekeytha Fullwood sings as well as she dances -- check out her new music video!

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