Neighborhood Griot Honored in New Video
“We’ve come to realize we need to make a whole person before we can make an artist,” says Melvin Deal, Executive Director of the African Heritage Dancers and Drummers. For more than half a century Deal has been connecting Washingtonians with their African heritage through dance, the arts, and even trips to Africa. In order to celebrate its own 30-year legacy, the Humanities Council of Washington DC has made possible a brief documentary film about Deal and his extraordinary legacy.
The brief video will showcase Deal’s many accomplishments, focusing on the countless lives he has transformed, including being there for East of the River residents during trying times in the 1980s. The “dance griot” of DC, Deal has maintained a tradition of storytelling, educating, and teaching culture through African dance and music. He has been declared one of “Washington Living Legends and Cultural Treasures” by the Washington Post. Through intergenerational testimony, interviews with community leaders and government officials, and the words and dance of Deal himself, the documentary film seeks to embrace, promote, and honor Deal’s contributions to help shape and empower DC communities, especially those East of the River.
There was a public showing of the pilot documentary film in June, which was 30 minutes long. For more information, please contact the Ward 7 Arts Collective at (202) 399-1997.