The Pittsburgh Foundation

Balafon West African Dance Ensemble

Photo courtesy of the Legacy Arts Project
Photo courtesy of the Legacy Arts Project

2023 grant amount: $50,000 over two years

This project support will allow Balafon to rebuild its core dance ensemble. Building on a strong foundation of over 10 years, the Pittsburgh-based ensemble has continually sought to evolve its level of artistry and scope of its programming. Balafon is, once again, entering a phase of rebuilding its core members. This includes establishing a consistent rehearsal space and schedule and attracting and training new members. A performing arts organization at heart, it has been over five years since Balafon had adequate resources to train a new generation of performers. Training will encompass not only the skills and techniques to present West African dance at a high level, but working together in dedicated rehearsal space, members will also be able to develop and maintain presentations, cultural and historic knowledge and refine overall approaches to educational programming. 

Presently, Balafon operates in many spaces throughout the city.  Carving out and sustaining a dedicated space over the next two to five years, will enable Balafon to lower the administrative burden involved in scheduling multiple spaces and help increase efforts to raise visibility. A firmer physical footprint will not only be a supportive home, it will also become a space for the greater community to connect with Balafon. Growing community connection to African dance will include creating partnerships with fellow African dance colleagues who have supported relaunching Balafon’s annual Black River Dance Festival.