Considering the other current world crises, this story tends to fade into the background—which is where it becomes more insidious. According to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, North Carolina ranks sixth in the U.S. in the number of African-Americans living with AIDS. Though the numbers of new cases in cities have stabilized or decreased in recent years, in places like the largely rural Johnston County—which is becoming a de facto suburb of Raleigh—the rate of new AIDS cases is soaring.
Now in its sixth year, Triangle Dance Festival for AIDS continues its thoughtful, targeted advocacy for international aid recipients as well as the needy in our region. This year's showcase of student and professional dancers, choreographers, oral historians, musicians and spoken-word artists, hosted as always by griot Baba Chuck Davis, will benefit the United Clayton Area Network for Youth, a group that focuses on HIV and mental health issues, and gang and domestic violence in Johnston County; and Development in Gardening, an international organization dedicated to providing proper nutrition to AIDS patients in Zambia through a series of community-based microgarden projects.
The festival "focuses on what's actually working in the fight against HIV," notes spokesperson Marie Garlock. "In a realm typically inundated with statistics, flattening or often demeaning images ... [groups like UCAN] fight back AIDS in North Carolina through self-love, self-respect and community support networks of care foremost."
Headliners at this year's festival include noted choreographer Gaspard Louis, Poetic Mike (poet-in-residence of the African American Dance Ensemble), the Rev. Carl Kenney, Malian kora player and singer Diali Cissokho, choreographer Tony C. Johnson and poet Kim Arrington.
A jazz reception with foods from local cafés follows the performance. Suggested donation: $10 (or more, for those who can afford it), $5 for students and seniors. —Byron Woods