African music, dance kick off 2019 Sundays on Stage at Philly Free Library

The decades-old series “Sundays on Stage” begins 2019 season at Free Library of Philadelphia with Seventh Principle performing African music and dance.

Seventh Principle will perform at the Free Library of Philadelphia's Central Branch on Sunday. (Courtesy of Seventh Principle)

Seventh Principle will perform at the Free Library of Philadelphia's Central Branch on Sunday. (Courtesy of Seventh Principle)

The Free Library of Philadelphia’s Central Branch has restarted its Sundays on Stage series with a performance called “Bantaba: The Circle of Celebration.”

The North Jersey music and dance company Seventh Principle combines West African culture with music and dance from the rest of the African diaspora.

Candace Hundley-Kamate, one of the company’s artistic directors, says the troupe is grateful to have the opportunity to bring its work to audiences who would not normally experience these types of performances.

“We try to give an interactive, hands-on performance that tells them a little bit of background about why we do what we do, and give them an opportunity to participate in the show,” she said.

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And people love getting a chance to play with the drums, she said.

“Most of the time we play, and they get really excited, but there is a little mystique as to what these drums are about,” she said. “So, we try to invite people up throughout the show.”

Sundays on Stage started two decades ago to bring free and culturally diverse programs to the library for residents, said Jennifer Estepp, who coordinates youth services at the library’s Central Branch.

“We have a huge range of events every season,” she said. “West African, Bollywood-inspired, China, that will be some of the cultures featured this season.”

Performances like this bring the community together, Estepp said.

“People who come to it are so enthusiastic, and just for the opportunity to bring performers to the art space, which people might not think of as a performance venue.”

Sundays on Stage continue into May; all programs begin at 2 p.m., doors open at 1:30 p.m. and admission is free.

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