Arts & Culture
Performing arts has always been a significant part of Igbo culture manifested in various festivals all year round. These performances are a celebration of a rich cultural heritage and an expression of pride in the customs and traditions of our forefathers.
- The IGBO
- Igbo Fest
- Traditional Women’s Dance
- Traditional Masquerade Dancers
- War Dance
- Ndi Akporo Dike: Traditional Igbo Drum Band
- Kitchen Night
Each year on the last Saturday in July, Warren Park in Chicago, Illinois transforms into an authentic traditional Igbo village. Its IGBOFEST weekend! Thousands from around the world come together to celebrate Igbo arts, culture, heritage, cuisine, and community. IGBOFEST features spectacular traditional cuisine and live entertainment including Atilogwu, Ojionu, Agaba, Odogwu, and Adamma masquerades, men and women’s dance troupes, plenty of fun activities for children, and the legendary Igbo War Dance as the annual grand finale.
IGBOFEST also offers on-sight wellness workshops, a book pavilion, a marketplace with traditional and contemporary exhibitors selling fine fabrics, jewelry and artwork.
As one of the largest African festivals in the United States, IGBOFEST brings communities of all cultural backgrounds together to experience authentic Igbo culture. It’s the climax of summertime Chicago, and an event you definitely won’t want to miss! See you there!
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The elegance and allure of traditional Igbo women’s dance has found its home away from home in Chicago, Illinois. The UIA traditional women’s dance group has been the crown jewel of Chicago since 2006. These beautiful ladies have come together as the next generation of dancers, with the goal of celebrating and preserving Igbo culture through authentic dance. To date, the women’s group has performed for enormous audiences at events including weddings, cultural shows, fashion shows, and cultural festivals. Enormous audiences gather to watch as they elegantly display their graceful and captivating dance steps to the sound of traditional music.
All are welcome and encouraged to join whether novice or advanced! The group practices regularly in collaborative teaching and learning sessions.
UIA traditional women dancers are available to perform at any community and/or cultural events with at least 4-6 weeks advance notice.book now
The mystique surrounding the masquerade is one of the key components of the Igbo culture that survived Western influences. Masquerades are classified into categories based on specialization. Each masquerade possesses particular attributes (warrior-like prowess, mystical powers, youthfulness, and old age) and specializes in one or more skills (dancing skills, acrobatics, and other ritual manifestations).
Masquerading may involve one person team or a team made up of instrument players, vocalists, dancers, masquerade advisers, and the masquerade itself. Most masquerades are covered from head to toe with some piece of clothing or/and bamboo rafters. Finally, a wooden mask is worn over the face. The mask will vary depending on the type of masquerade and the place of origin within the Igboland. The masquerade appears during traditional celebrations (funerals) and festivals (new yam festival).
The UIA masquerade troupe performs regularly during traditional celebrations, community events, and holidays. All are welcome and encouraged to join the UIA masquerade troupe whether novice or advanced! The group practices regularly in collaborative teaching and learning sessions.join here
UIA Traditional Masquerade Dancers are available to perform at any community and/or cultural events with at least 4-6 weeks advance notice.book now
The setting is the center of the Igbo village square. The village has been victorious in battle and they declare celebration. The warriors leading with the spoils of victory return from the battle field as heroes. In the days of slave trade and inter- tribal war, this dance was performed to boost the morale of the warriors at the end of any victorious outing. It was also performed to entertain and honor brave warriors for bringing pride to their community.
This masquerade is unique since it’s not covered with costumes and mask as others. The lead warrior holds a piece of palm tree leaf in his mouth to prevent him from talking, thus ensuring the integrity of its mystical powers. It is believed that if he talks he will die. He represents both the dead and the living.
Valiant and powerful, this is a war dance troupe represented by two distinct symbols of war in traditional Igbo culture– the medicine man carrying the small drum filled with overflowing wine for imbibing and incantations and the lead warrior carrying the three skulls, accompanied by his troupe, symbolizing the spoils of past wars and as a warning to future foes.
The players use a combination of flat wooden clappers (mkpa mkpa) and drums to produce non-stop rhythms. The lead player leads the chanting while the players sing the chorus.join here
UIA War Dancers are available to perform at select community and/or cultural events with at least 4-6 weeks advance notice.book now
Traditional Igbo music is generally lively, upbeat, and spontaneous which creates a variety of sounds that enables the Igbo people to incorporate music into almost all the facets of their daily lives. These musical tools are used primarily by masquerade, dance, and musical groups in special activities like; rituals, spiritual and cultural events. The Igbo traditionally rely heavily on percussion instrument, which are popular because of their innate ability to provide a diverse array of tempo, sound, and pitch.
Ndi Akporo Dike is Chicago’s premiere traditional Igbo band made up of Igbo who are committed to celebrating culture though traditional Igbo music. Juo kwa ese! The goal is to revive the love and to water the root of our culture by sharing it with Igbos, Nigerians, and the whole world at large. To date, Ndi Akporo Dike has built an enormous fan base in Midwestern US, and has been featured in the media for bringing a welcomed cultural twist to the state of Illinois.
All are welcome and encouraged to join Ndi Akporo Dike whether novice or advanced! The group practices regularly in collaborative teaching and learning sessions.
Ndi Akporo Dike drum band is availabe to perform at any community and/or cultural event with at least 4-6 weeks advance notice.
Food is only one aspect of Igbo cultural traditions, yet it is probably one of the most persistent. In Igbo culture food is a source of pleasure, comfort and security. In many ways, food is also symbolic of hospitality, social status, and religious significance. How food is selected, prepared, served, and consumed are all factors profoundly touched by cultural inheritance.
Each year UIA hosts several Igbo Kitchen Nights in which the community comes together, bridging generational gaps, to enjoy great music, dance, storytelling, and networking. Kitchen Night brings everyone together from various backgrounds to celebrate and preserve culture through sharing, learning, and enjoying authentic Igbo recipes and cuisine. Please see the clip below to listen in on Kitchen Night: Igba Izu (caucus) for some great history and storytelling.