Through energetic drumming and carefully choreographed moves, members of the Sankofa Dance Theater bring African-American history to life.
On Wednesday, the Baltimore-based cultural arts organization will help commemorate Black History Month by giving a free performance at 7 p.m. at Carroll Community College.
"They are mesmerizing. The costumes are colorful, and [the show] is simply magnificent," said Cheryl Crandall, founder and president of Carroll County Women on the Move, which is co-sponsoring the event. "It's a breathtaking performance."
Mrs. Crandall knows because she has seen the troupe several times over the past few years.
"Every year the Meyerhoff sponsors a salute to Dr. [Martin Luther] King," she said. "Last January I attended that program, and the Sankofa dance company was performing. I had seen them prior to that at Kwanzaa events and at the annual Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival in Annapolis. I think they are wonderful."
Mrs. Crandall is thrilled that the dance company's spirited presentation is coming to Carroll County, something she says is long overdue.
Since establishing the women's group in 1992, Mrs. Crandall has worked to increase the number of black cultural events in the community.
"I think it is something the county desperately needs," she said.
She hopes the Sankofa dancers will be able to return to the county in the spring.
"I'd like to see them perform at the Brethren Center in New Windsor for its International Festival," she said.
Founded six years ago by the husband-and-wife team of Kauna Mujamal and Kibibi Ajanku, the Sankofa Dance Theater celebrates African history through dance, music and storytelling.
Sankofa, an Akan word, means returning to the past to recover what has been lost, then moving forward.
"The thing I like most about them is they give you background information on the tribal dances that are part of their program," Mrs. Crandall said.
The group's 40-minute performance of drumming and dancing will begin on a mellow note.
A poetry reading before the show will feature excerpts of works by black poets.
Mrs. Crandall and Crickit Cook-Cook, vice president of the women's group, will recite poems by Phillis Wheatley, Frances Watkins Harper, Margaret Walker, Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni.
The event will be held in the cafe area of the college's Great Hall.