THIS WEEK IS "African Heritage Week" in the District of Columbia. Mayor Barry proclaimed it in honor of Melvin Deal and his African Heritage Center, which is celebrating its 25th year with events and performances all over town.
Deal has devoted his career to educating Washington about African dance, music, history and customs. Through classes, workshops and countless performances by his African Heritage Dancers and Drummers troupe, Deal and his associates have prompted many people both to seek out their roots and to discover the endless variety of rhythms, stomps and undulations of African music and dance.
This Friday and Saturday at Gallaudet College's Elstead Auditorium, heritage week comes to a rousing conclusion with Black Dance '85, two performances highlighting contemporary and traditional cultural for. Friday's program features the jazz stylings of trumpeter Webster Young (backed by such local luminaries as pianist Lawrence Wheatley), the spunky jazz-tap routines of the Bren-Carr Dancers and the fusion jazz of Crossfire.
Saturday, the focus shifts to African movement and sound. The Philadelphia-based Arthur Hall Afro-American Dance Ensemble, North Carolina's Chuck Davis African-American Dance Ensemble, and the African Heritage Big Ladies Project and Chamber Company are sure to give the floorboards a mighty fine workout.
BLACK DANCE '85 -- 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Gallaudet College Elstead Auditorium, 800 Florida Ave. NE. Tickets $12.50, available at Ticketron. Call 628-9528.