Bi-Okota Heritage Festival offeers an alternative to holiday-related fare. Photo: Cara Owsley
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Bi-Okoto's Heritage Festival

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By Julie Mullins for CityBeat

It's a celebratory time of the year, and the locally based African drumming and dance ensemble Bi-Okoto offers a hot, high-energy alternative to holiday-related fare with its 2012 Heritage Festival this Saturday. Bi-Okoto delivers a double dose of cross-cultural fun and learning: In the daytime at the Bi-Okoto Cultural Center, you can immerse yourself in traditional African dance and drumming workshops taught by visiting master instructors from countries as diverse as Nigeria, Senegal, Guinea, Ghana and the Congo.

Feeling less than full-on participatory? Visit the on-site African Market, where you'll find unique jewelry, clothing, instruments, foods and other goods straight from the continent. Then, at 7:30 p.m., catch these magnificent performers in action onstage drumming and dancing up a storm, along with Bi-Okoto, at the nearby Woodward High School Auditorium. Don't miss this rare opportunity to experience a taste of the cultural richness of the West African diaspora — right here in Cincinnati. All ages. $20-$25; discounts available. Saturday, Dec. 15. Bi-Okoto Cultural Center, 7030 Reading Road, suite 662, Bond Hill. biokoto.com/Heritage.php .

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