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Interview with Melvin Deal

Object Details

Anacostia Community Museum
Scope and Contents
Melvin Deal - expert on African dance and drumming - talks about the Kingman Park neighborhood and working immigrant community in which he grew up in Washington, D.C. He talks about attending lectures at the Smithsonian Institution when he was a child, and his determination for a life outside of the neighborhood where he grew up. He describes how his interest in dance began with learning about Native American traditional dance. Deal talks about his vastly different experiences at Northeast Academy of Dance and Howard University dance department. He talks about completing field research on African dance in Africa; traveling alone in Africa; visiting different countries, cultures, and ethnic groups, including Yoruba people; and learning and sharing African dance. Deal discusses starting of a dance company of African cultural dancers and drummers, later named African Heritage Dancers and Drummers, in the early 1960s in Washington, D.C.; various locations where the group rehearsed throughout Washington. D.C.; obtaining funds to run the organization; and his experience as a resident artist at the New Thing Art and Architecture Center from 1968-1973. Deal describes how he touches the community through dance and music through working with children and senior citizens in his workshops; teaching and working with students at Duke Ellington School of the Arts; teaching the context of African dance and respect for African culture; and giving young people and adults an opportunity to embrace the art of dance and not be judged by it. Deal discusses the dehumanization of slavery how learning about African culture and dance improves black people's self-esteem; black people's acceptance or lack of acceptance and awareness of their blackness in the United States; African culture, particularly Afro-Cubana, in Washington, D.C.; and the customary differences of sexuality in African and European cultures. Deal also talks about his work ethic, creative process, spirituality, and commitment to helping and encouraging people; and the importance of God in life and his art.
Interview. Related to 'Citified: Arts and Creativity East of the Anacostia River.' Dated 20110420.
2 Video recordings (MiniDV)
Archival materials
Video recordings
African Americans
African American dancers
African culture
Civic leaders
African American neighborhoods
Washington (D.C.)
United States
Collection Rights
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Interview with Melvin Deal, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
ACMA.01-007.16, Item ACMA AV005214
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