Entertainment

Choreographer Lakai Worrell Takes Director Seat in Play on Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

    NEW YORK, NY, September 17, 2016 /24-7PressRelease/Purelements‘ Co-Founder, Lakai Worrell, makes theatrical debut as director and lead choreographer in the 22nd annual The MAAFA: “Speaking The Truth” to open on September 18th, 2016 at St. Paul’s Community Baptist Church.

Having performed in the production over 15 years in multiple roles including drummer, dancer, actor and serving as lead choreographer for 10 years of the production’s twenty-one annual presentations, Lakai Worrell takes on the role of director in the 22nd year presentation of The MAAFA, a theatrical production that follows the journey of more than 100 million Africans captured into slavery through the “Middle Passage,” during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade from 1500-1900. Worrell also serves as the Director of Dance at St. Paul’s Community Baptist Church.

“The MAAFA is a very special ritual for me, as the process is responsible for a lot of my personal healing and evolution. Each time I have learned more about my people today, our Ancestors and myself. This year as director, I am being pushed to confront my fears and listen to and trust my inner voice even more. So, I changed a good portion of things, took out some favorite moments and reimagined the way to tell the stories. My hope is that all who attend will share in having a new experience and will be inspired to honor our elders and ancestors with greater integrity and love,” says 2016 MAAFA Suite director and choreographer, Lakai Worrell.

Attracting over 3,000 every year, The MAAFA offers people from all walks of life a chance to understand the nature of the treatment the ancestors of Black Americans endured upon generations of Africans in America.The term “MAAFA” (pronounced Mah-AH-fah) is a Kiswahili word, which gives definition to the catastrophic event experienced by millions of African people during the Middle Passage journey. The word “MAAFA” is the concept of Dr. Marimba Ani, African-American scholar and author, and has been adopted in contemporary scholarship. St. Paul Community Baptist Church first introduced The MAAFA production under the leadership of Pastor Emeritus Rev. Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood as a way to heal the community and bring awareness to racism in American society.

Featured guest speakers in the 2016 MAAFA Suite season include Reverend Dr. Jawanza Colvin of Olivett Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio and 2015 EBONY Magazines Power 100 honoree Reverend Neichelle Guidry, M. Div., Trinity United Church of Christ of Chicago, Illinois.

As part of the annual MAAFA Presentation, the SPCBC campus also transforms into The MAAFA Museum from September 12-25, 2016. The visual/interactive walking tour is employed to expand participants’ knowledge and understanding of the period in history known as the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. The tour allows visitors to experience “Africans in America” in an enlightening way though art galleries, authentic artifacts, woodcarvings, quilts and historic vignettes. The MAAFA Museum tour is appropriate for adults and students grades 4 and higher. Free MAAFA Museum tours are available now thru September 25th, 2016, by appointment only. To make an appointment, e-mail MAAFA@spcbc.com or call 718.557.2004 or 718.257.1300 ext 174.

As part of the annual MAAFA Presentation, the SPCBC campus also transforms into The MAAFA Museum from September 12-25, 2016. The visual/interactive walking tour is employed to expand participants’ knowledge and understanding of the period in history known as the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. The tour allows visitors to experience “Africans in America” in an enlightening way though art galleries, authentic artifacts, woodcarvings, quilts and historic vignettes. The MAAFA Museum tour is appropriate for adults and students grades 4 and higher. Free MAAFA Museum tours are available now thru September 25th, 2016, by appointment only. To make an appointment, e-mail MAAFA@spcbc.com or call 718.557.2004 or 718.257.1300 ext 174.

Advanced tickets to The MAAFA Suite production start at $25-40 and are currently available for purchase at http://bit.ly/MAAFA2016. Both the production and the museum are housed at St. Paul’s Community Baptist Church, located at 859 Hendrix St, Brooklyn, NY 11207. The MAAFA Suite will run on Sunday, September 18th at 6pm, September 19th, 22nd and 23rd at 7pm and excerpts will be presented on September 21st at 3pm.

For press inquiries on the 2016 MAAFA Director and Choreographer, Lakai Worrell, co-founder/artistic director, Purelements, please contact Jasu Sims at jasu@presstheory.com. For images of press assets and The MAAFA video clips, visit http://bit.ly/MAAFA_DB. To connect with Purelements, join the Purelements Facebook community, follow @Purelements on Instagram and Twitter at @Purelements and on YouTube @Purelements. To learn more about the 2016 MAAFA presentation, visit spcbc.com/MAAFA. To learn more about St. Paul Community Baptist Church, visit spcbc.com.

About Lakai Worrell

Lakai Worrell is an East New York, Brooklyn native choreographer, dancer, actor and best known as Co-Founder/Co-Executive Director of Purelements: An Evolution in Dance, a Brooklyn-based performing arts organization. Over the last 10 years, Worrell, together with Purelements Co-Founder/Co-Executive Director has used dance to address social issues affecting Brooklyn communities and positively impact and empower individuals, with particular emphasis on East New York. With hip-hop as his foundation, the he expanded his dance vocabulary across various disciplines through a mix of studying under professional dancers, training at professional institutions and performing with various dance companies. Worrell has shared stages with several top tier performance artists including Savion Glover, Phyllicia Rashaad, Max Roach, Crystal Waters, Lauryn Hill, Olatunje Babatunje, Cassandra Wilson, Ossie Davis, Justin Emeka, Ashanti and others.

Prior to co-launching Purelements, Lakai served as director, principal dancer and a dance instructor at Creative Outlet (CO) Dance Theatre of Brooklyn, NY and played an instrumental role in the development of CO’s multifaceted Arts-in-Education program for New York City’s Department of Education. Lakai also serves as Director of Dance at St. Paul’s Community Baptist Church and is a husband and father of three sons. To learn more about Lakai Worrell, visit http://purelements.org/about/about-the-founders.

About Purelements, an Evolution in Dance

Purelements: an Evolution in Dance (“PE”) is a 501(c) (3) performing arts organization founded in 2006, by Kevin A. Joseph and Lakai Worrell. The mission of PE is to use multiple facets of the performing arts as educational tools to evolve and transform the individuals and communities it serves, and to present dynamic performances that are socially relevant and impactful. PE’s mission unfolds through an art-in-education program, a performing arts program and its professional and pre-professional dance companies. To learn more about Purelements, visit purelements.org.

About St. Paul Community Baptist Church (SPCBC)

St. Paul Community Baptist Church is a nonprofit ministry dedicated to serving the borough of Brooklyn and the needs of its congregants who reside across the borough as well as the five boroughs of New York City, Long Island and northern counties of New York and New Jersey. The organization was established in 1927 and is currently led by Pastor David K. Brawley. Located in the East New York section of Brooklyn, one of the roughest neighborhoods in the Tri-State area known for its history of gang violence, crime, drugs and poverty, has grown to be a safe haven and resource organization ministering to communities around Brooklyn and the NYC area and through its African Justice Ministry, provides aid and assistance to the continent of Africa and islands in the Caribbean. Pastor Brawley is full of passion, love and fervor for the Word of God and his obedience to the call of ministry is evidenced in his leadership. He started his ministry as a youth minister at the age of 16 at First Baptist Church in Deer Park, NY and served in that ministry for 13 years. He began his full time career in ministry at St. Paul in 1994. For more information on St. Paul Community Baptist Church, visit spcbc.com/MAAFA.

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