Black Voices Boston

Virtual Concert

BLACK VOICES BOSTON: Our stories, in words and movement.

BLACK VOICES BOSTON is a storytelling and movement project based on experiences of individuals from Boston’s Black communities. With a process created by Rafael Palacios--artistic director of Afro-Colombian dance company Sankofa Danzafro--to keep his artists engaged during COVID-19 lockdowns, and to honor personal stories inspired by racial justice movements around the world, BLACK VOICES tapped company members’ ancestral roots to create works that connected stories of Afro-Colombian peoples to those of the African continent and its Diaspora.

Commissioned here by Celebrity Series of Boston, BLACK VOICES begins an international journey to create a body of work anchored by words and motion, and built on ideals of social bonding, personal growth, and the positioning of local cultures in global dynamics.

Rafael Palacios, Sankofa Danzafro, and Celebrity Series invite Boston-area residents who identify as Black to join them in the creation of BLACK VOICES BOSTON.  Applicants will submit personal stories as part of an open application process in October 2020.  Seven finalists will be selected by a committee of local artists, educators, and community leaders, and invited to participate in one-on-one online workshops with Rafael (who will be joined by an assistant and, if needed, a translator) to create short, self-made movement sequences that reflect their personal stories. 

Palacios will guide participants through a process to translate the emotion and meaning of their personal stories into choreographed movement. The resulting movements will be filmed for viewing in an online public showcase December 6, that will illustrate the conversations and reflections of Boston’s Black communities. 

Want to be part of BLACK VOICES BOSTON?

Applications for BLACK VOICES BOSTON will be accepted now until October 27 (Deadline Extended!)
All participants must be available for the December 6 showcase, and all will receive a $500 stipend upon completion of the project.

Apply Now

Applications for BLACK VOICES BOSTON will be accepted now until October 27, 2020 at 11:59 PM (Deadline Extended). Seven finalists will be announced in late October and will meet virtually with choreographer Rafael Palacios in November. All participants must be available for the December 6 showcase, and all will receive a $500 stipend upon completion of the project.

The total time commitment is estimated to be 10 hours from November to mid-December. More details are available within the application.

Celebrity Series believes in the creative energy of the arts to build thriving communities. We seek everyday Bostonians interested in sharing their personal stories through words and movement. To be considered for BLACK VOICES BOSTON, qualifying applicants must:

  • Deliver a compelling written submission in the form of a letter to Rafael (1-2 pages)
  • Represent diversity (of age, background, cultural identity, education, and life experience)
  • Self-identify as Black
  • Show commitment and enthusiasm to work within the ideals of the project and its creator’s vision
  • Be willing to perform on camera in a showcase for other people
  • Have access to a reliable computer and/or mobile phone and web connection
  • Be able to commit to the workshop and showcase schedule
  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Reside within the greater Boston Metro area. NOTE: residents of the 23 Boston neighborhoods are encouraged to apply.

Any questions? Email

More about Sankofa Danzafro


The globally known Afro-Colombian dance troupe Sankofa Danzafro visited Boston in the past, most recently in November 2018 for a performance and a series of community engagement events presented by Celebrity Series of Boston.  The company was scheduled to return this coming January before the coronavirus pandemic shut down travel and theaters. The BLACK VOICES BOSTON project is a way to keep the company connected to Boston.

“Sankofa” which means “return to the root,” is more than a word -- it’s an African philosophy that proposes the past is a keyhole through which to view the present and to consider the future. This word has both named and guided Sankofa Danzafro, which was founded by Artistic Director Rafael Palacios in 1997 as a space for the training and creation of dance. 

Palacios’s motivation has been to rewrite the history of Black communities through the eyes of its Afro-descendants in Colombia, and elsewhere. His point of inspiration is that history has always been written by the oppressors, while the oppressed were denied a voice. By utilizing the voices of the Sankofa dancers and musicians, Palacios has created dances for more than 20 years, focusing on the retelling of centuries’ worth of history from an historically ignored point of view. 

Sankofa Danzafro’s mission is: “Dance to be heard, rather than to be seen.”

This project is generously sponsored by 


Support for this project is provided by the BARR FOUNDATION and its ArtsAmplified initiative and by the National Endowment for the Arts through its CARES Act funds.