Helen and Sondra
Once upon a time, in a former life, I imagine that Sondra Singer and I lived in an African village. We were drummers, storytellers, and very good friends. In this lifetime, we became performing partners in 1999 while playing with the African drum troupe, Oyoyo. We both realized an affinity for culturally-based rhythms, stories, and songs and struck out on our own under the moniker of Alafia (which means peace). Much of our current programming centers on the themes of peace, building bridges, African and Middle Eastern culture, and actively engaging their audiences—which have ranged in age from 2 to 92!
Our programming is appropriate for children from preschool/ kindergarten through 6th grade and can be customized to fit a particular theme and/or age level. Performances generally run 45 – 60 minutes. In addition, we are happy to customize our programming for community groups, conferences, and special events.
Celebrating Our Similarities: Building Bridges of Peace and Understanding:
This interactive, modular program uses songs, stories, rhythms and Dances of Universal Peace (see www.dancesofuniversalpeace.org for more information) that emphasize the benefits of enhancing our understanding of others through clearer communication, listening and empathy.
Chanukah and Kwanzaa: The Other December Holidays:
In this fun, educational and entertaining holiday programming alternative, we share historical information and holiday symbols. Starting with Chanukah, we sing songs and involve the audience in playing with our giant dreidel (a four-sided top used in a children's game of chance). For Kwanzaa, we include stories and songs that reflect the qualities of the African American celebration and culminate with "Fanga" — an interactive welcome story, song and dance often told during this holiday.
Tales of the Earth, Songs of Peace:**
Focusing on the dual themes of environmental awareness and responsibility, this participatory and modular program incorporates ethnic folktales, songs and Dances of Universal Peace—where time and space is available—to help connect the audience more deeply to the earth. Songs and tales from Native Americans, Bali, India and Japan highlight environmental appreciation.
A Tour of Africa in Story, Rhythm & Song:
This is an involving rhythmic program featuring a variety of performance pieces from the African continent—such as "The Drum," a drum origination story from the Congo and "The Promise of the Full Moon," an adaptation of the story of the Khoi Khoi people of the Southern Cape of South Africa. The performance also includes percussion, songs, and the African welcome song and dance, "Fanga." To create a full-bodied, authentic experience of an African cultural program, we include a third percussionist.
Let's Make Noise:
This is a fun and interactive event that is great for school assemblies and private celebrations. The first part features a Russian folktale, "The Stubborn Turnip," told in tandem. During the second part, students participate in a rhythm band: not only do they create rhythmic sounds with their bodies and voices, some are also invited on stage to play on the supplied percussion instruments. Throughout this second part, we can also demonstrate the playing of these instruments and mention fun cultural facts about each. The program culminates joyously with everyone learning "Fanga."
** Sondra usually performs this program solo, but I can join her as an Alafia option.