Strand Theatre show hosts exploration of Black History

A scene from the Roxbury Center for the Performing Arts production of Sankofa. Photo by Jesse Villaroel

On Sat., Feb. 25, dancers of the Roxbury Center for the Performing Arts will take the stage at the Strand Theatre to showcase Sankofa, a performance with a focus on Black History.

Andrea Herbert Major, the founder and director of the performing arts school based on Blue Hill Avenue, said the name Sankofa is an African word that means to look back and then move forward.
“I took it as to never forget your past, to acknowledge your presence, and to dream of a better future,” she said.

Major and her 50 dancers and two singers will take the audience through time periods that explore American roots in Africa to the modern times in the United States. The performance will start with a traditional African dance then follows a variety of dances like modern, lyrical ballet, and tap – just to name a few.

“This show will leave people with hopefully a sense of pride of who they are, and what the people who came before them did to get to where whey are today,” Major said.

This is the second year that the Strand has hosted Sankofa. The performance runs for two hours and 20 minutes. The performers are predominantly teenage and college-aged students, but the cast ranges in age from 9 to 55.

“God has really blessed me to see me through these ventures,” Major said. “When you put up a show, especially a show of this caliber, you have to really have some kind of budget, most of the time you don’t really have a budget. I work on a shoe string budget.”

Major, a graduate of the Boston Conservatory of Music, founded the school in 1967. In 1974, she started staging Black History-themed at local theatres and colleges up and down the east coast.

“I’ve taken the students to D.C., Alabama, NY, Connecticut, Rhode Island,” she said.

“Everybody can learn from the show. They really will go back in time and see the black experience, what we went through, how far we’ve come, and how far more we have to go.”

Saturday’s show begins at 5 p.m. Tickets range from $30 to $12 for ages 12 and under.

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