Beginning on September 28, the MOJA Arts Festival began traveling around city of Charleston to celebrate and embrace African-American and Caribbean art. The festival is holding various events, most of which are free admission, throughout the city until October 8. The festival, sponsored by Roper St. Francis and BlueChoice HealthPlan Medicaid, made an appearance at the Farmer’s Market in the heart of Marion Square this past weekend. A stage was set up on the lawn for local performers to express their talents and show off their culture while Charlestonians explored the surrounding Farmer’s Market.
The Deninufay Dance and Drum Company, a group that practices traditional African dances, took the stage and effortlessly performed an uplifting, energetic routine. The Charleston-based group started its performance with professional drum players who let children in the crowd volunteer to learn how to play and perform stage. The dance company also gave everyone the opportunity to learn a traditional dance routine. Audience members eagerly raised their hands to volunteer for the chance to practice the moves step-by-step.
The company is owned by Mrs. Charlene Horlbak and currently offers dance classes at its North Charleston studio for those interested in different styles of contemporary dance. Performers can even be booked for lively events like weddings and parties! The growing dance group is known for earning countless community outreach awards, and they are partners with multiple organizations that host events in Charleston like the Spoleto Festival and the North Charleston Arts Festival.
Also, the MOJA Arts Festival featured performances from representatives of local Church youth groups. The junior performers presented interpretive dance routines to go along with powerful, holy music. As each group showed off its intricate dance, the people in the audience sat at the edge of their seats, admiring how the dancers never missed a beat. Children in the crowd were encouraged to participate in interactive reading activities with J’miah Nabawi, a storyteller and entertainer who utilizes folktales and music to tell stories to young kids.
When there weren’t any performers on stage, those interested in learning more about African and Caribbean culture or the history of the MOJA Arts Festival could talk to a representative
of the festival at a nearby stand that also sold MOJA merchandise. Other stands intertwined with the Farmer’s Market and sold vibrant traditional clothes and accessories from various African regions.
To conclude Saturday’s festival event, the X-treme Level Band performed covers of fan favorites and got the crowd up on its feet, singing and clapping along to the music. The MOJA Arts Festival is hosting events throughout the rest of the week, concluding with Ranky Tanky Homecoming at the Historic Dock Street Theatre on Queen Street.