Artist | Curator | Scholar
Christopher Massenburg, better known as Dasan Ahanu, is a public speaker, organizer, curator, educator, poet, spoken word artist, educator, songwriter, and emcee, and loyal Hip Hop head born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is co-founder and managing director of Black Poetry Theatre, a Durham based theatre company that creates and produces original poetry and spoken word based productions. As an active participant in poetry slam, Dasan has competed regionally and nationally as a founding member and coach of Durham, NC’s own Bull City Slam Team. In 2010 and 2014, Ahanu led the Bull City Slam Team in winning the Southern Fried Southeastern Regional Poetry Slam, the largest regional poetry slam in the country. He also led the team to a 3rd place finish at the 2010 National Poetry Slam and a 2nd place finish in Group Piece Finals at the 2012 National Poetry Slam.Click to read more
27 to 31 July 2018 with over 10 show - Cincinnati, Ohio
Art and culture a representative force in our society. It is an outlet for artists and the things they have experienced or are facing. It is also a reflection of the society we live in, for better or worse. We can use art and culture and its artifacts to spark necessary conversations and gain a deeper understanding of the world around us. This project unpacks what Hip Hop and pop culture say to us about the relationships we form and the impact they have. What do they look like when they are healthy? What can happen when they aren’t? What the subtle narratives in the music and videos we interact with regularly and what do show us about us? How can this interrogation raise our awareness and understanding? When it comes to our relationships, what are we choosing to ignore and what do we need to change? Through multimedia presentation and deep discussion we will talk dive into this and more…WHEN THE BEAT DROPS!
Variations of this project address intimate partner violence, rape and sexual assault, healthy sexuality, and issues of consent. This project focuses on college age young adults, but can be adapted for older teens. It can also be presented to adults in partnership with community organizations and initiatives.
Get two award-winning artists in a room. Add a serious band or just a microphone; then put them in a room full of folks. Have their poetry, rhyming and singing address some personal woes, community challenges, life's beautifuls and the universal wonders found in the modern age...
...Wrap it in the past of the ascended masters Gil Scott-Heron and Oscar Brown, Jr., before adding the original works crafted as next steps in the timeline.
The Originals is both a tribute show and live mixtape. The project focuses on the works and lives of Gil Scott-Heron and Oscar Brown Jr via their poetry and their music. The ascended masters are considered two pioneers in both genres. Their contributions to American culture can be witnessed through conscious rap music, acid jazz, neo-soul, spoken word/performance poetry and any art that promote progressive thinking or action.
Dasan and Tai are both observant students of the giants. Their own career arcs benefit from the lanes the two masters created. So this live mixtape experience is a celebration of the influences of the two masters and a showcase of Dasan and Tai’s additions to a rich artistic tradition.
Featured at BAM Cafe (Brooklyn Academy of Music), Brooklyn Museum, National Black Writer’s Festival, Blue Note Jazz Club, Beyu Caffe, Durham County Library, and American International College.
The HeavyLight Experience is a collective of creatives that came together from careers as solo artists, deejays, producers and collaborators. Their fusion of hip-hop, R&B, house, jazz and spoken word, combined with their experience, travels and regional sensibilities takes listeners on a well-rounded musical journey. The group consists of Dasan Ahanu (National radio and television, Poetry Slam Champion, Harvard Fellow, College Professor), Tai Allen (Indie soul artist, music curator, published poet, creative director at Vibe Vixen, Uptown and YRB), producer and MC/Poet Mic El, (Colette, Eric Roberson, Jarrard Anthony), and DJ CEO (Fuse TV’s United States of Hip-Hop, Brooklyn Beer + Wine Festival).
Their first project, resulting from marathon sessions in the studio, is Ocean’s Eleven. The aptly titled EP seamlessly stitches their diverse talents together in a string of songs that’s reminiscent of the Native Tongue collective.
Founded in 2008 by Church DaPoet and Dasan Ahanu, BPT creates and presents original poetry and spoken word based theatrical productions. Black Poetry Theatre seeks to expand the understanding of spoken word and foster greater appreciation for the power of contemporary poetry by presenting it in traditional theatrical settings, raising cultural awareness through the use of the performing arts and telling necessary stories from within our communities.
In 2005, The Jambalaya Soul Slam started at the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham and has been supported by the St. Joseph's Historic Foundation ever since. Each month the slam brings together the best poets in the area to compete for a cash prize and an invitation to Grand Slam Finals where the Bull City Slam Team (BCST) is picked. The Jambalaya Soul Slam also features some of the best poets from across the country each month. The Jambalaya Soul Slam has been highlighted in the News & Observer, Herald Sun, and other media as one of the area's most successful arts programs.
The Bull City Slam Team (BCST) is sponsored by the St. Joseph’s historic foundation and represents the Triangle in regional and national competition each summer. The team has had great success at the Southern Fried poetry slam, an annual festival and competition featuring teams of poets from across the southeast. It is the largest regional poetry slam in the country and is run by Southern Fried Poetry Slam, Incorporated. The team finished second at the 2009 Southern Fried Poetry Slam held in Durham, NC. In 2010 the Bull City Slam Team won the Southern Fried Poetry Slam in Knoxville, TN. In 2014 the team won the Southern Fried Regional Poetry Slam for a second time in Greenville, SC. In 2015 they finished second at the Southern Fried Regional Poetry Slam in Little Rock, AR. In 2018, the BCST finished third at the Southern Fried Poetry Slam in San Antonio, Tx. The team has also had success at the National Poetry Slam (NPS), a national team competition run by Poetry Slam Incorporated and held in cities across the country. The BCST finished 3rd in team finals at the 2010 NPS in St. Paul, MN and second in Group Piece finals at the 2012 NPS in Charlotte, NC. The team has made semi-finals at NPS three times, in 2007, 2010, and 2016. The Team has also had individual representatives make final stage at the Individual World Poetry Slam (IWPS) and Women of the World Poetry Slam (WOWPS); both events are also run annually by Poetry Slam Incorporated.
BCST members are chosen each year through participation in the Jambalaya Soul Slam, a monthly poetry slam series held at the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham, NC. The members also participate in other creative writing and performance programming at the Hayti Heritage Center throughout the year. They help facilitate community programs with local partners through the foundation. One of the goals of the slam and the team is to not only be a representative for the community but also an active participant in the community.
Radical Voice and Artistic Expression (RVAE) seeks to bring artists together to discuss how to integrate their artistic and their creative talents (vision, innovation, analysis, etc.) into movement building and social change. It also seeks to foster the creation of new arts projects, actions, and events that spark necessary conversations and center the lives and voices of often marginalized communities. Especially when it comes to communities of color and the struggles they face.
RVAE is an opportunity for artists to get in a room and talk radicalism, voice, arts & activism, and how to lend their art to movements in the communities. RVAE is part workshop, part discussion, part peer skill and strategy building session, and part curated arts experience. RVAE sessions are guided by a facilitator, but are led by the collective energy, spirit, and passion of the participants.
RVAE an incubator for art creation and activism that seeks to ensure that the quality of art will not be compromised in exchange for social significance and that the use of art towards practical effect will not inhibited. The art created is done with purpose and the arts events/actions are planned and executed with will, determination, and love. This is done through partnership, cross collaboration, and resource sharing.
RVAE operates on the belief that Radical Voice is multi-genre artistic agitation intended to exert influence and inspire change.
- Artists aim to create art that contributes to change, is inspired by struggle, and can be integrated into work (movement building and organizing for social justice and change)
- Artists seek to use their creative talents to help build social movements
- To ideate multi-media and multi-genre artistic responses
- To manufacture dissent and radical vision through the use of imagination.
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