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Kulu Mele African Dance & Drum Ensemble

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Inspired by the voices of our ancestors, Kulu Mele African Dance & Drum Ensemble preserves and presents traditional dance and music of Africa and the African diaspora and celebrates contemporary African American culture.

About Kulu Mele

Kulu Mele carries the torch for culture. Established in Philadelphia in 1969 by Baba Robert Crowder, Kulu Mele is the fruit of many peoples' dreams, the nation's longest-enduring African dance company. For 50+ years, Kulu Mele has embodied excellence in West Africa, Cuban and African Diasporan traditions, including contemporary American hip hop.


Kulu Mele performs works from their repertoire year-round, bringing culturally meaningful African dance, drum and culture to communities, schools, programs and festivals throughout Philadelphia and beyond. The company tours nationally and internationally. Locally, Kulu Mele's Thanksgiving weekend annual show premieres new work by guest artists and Artistic Director Dorothy Wilkie, who has led the company for 35+ years. In addition, staples from the repertoire of older children sometimes have the opportunity to perform with the company.


Kulu Mele company members often develop work through intensive are also reinterpreted; the company continues to grow and evolve.

"You never stop learning," is Kulu Mele mantra. 


"What's important? Keeping our culture. We just scratched the surface of it."—John Wilkie


"Kulu Mele is lively and holy at the same time."—Sonia Sanchez


"Kulu Mele is a Philadelphia treasure."—Joan Myers Brown


"Kulu Mele is an example of African-centered work with a clear artistic vision of excellence, cultural competency and precision. Kulu Mele represents what is possible for community with focus, perseverance and a deep sense of commitment to ensuring traditions are preserved and shared."—Ayoka Wiles

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