They Dance to Her Drum

A film by Ayoka Chenzira

1979 | 15 minutes | 16mm/DVD | Order No. 99198


A portrait of Syvilla Fort focusing on the beauty of her choreography, the virtuosity of her dancing, and her role as teacher of a generation of African American dancers.


  • Maysles Cinema


Ayoka Chenzira

Ayoka Chenzira, artist/educator, is an award-winning, internationally acclaimed film and video artist, and is one of the first African-Americans to teach film production in higher education.
Chenzira has worked and lectured extensively on film throughout the United States, South America, and Europe; traversing the African continent collecting oral narratives from women, as well as training emerging filmmakers.

An award-winning artist and recognized pioneer in Black independent cinema, Dr. Chezira is a graduate of New York University (B.F.A. Film), Columbia University/Teachers College (M.A. Education) and is the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in digital media from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Chenzira received her degrees in film production and education from New York University and Columbia University/Teachers’ College. As Professor of Film at The City College of New York, she taught filmmaking to an international student body for nearly twenty years; co-creating the MFA program in Media Arts Production in 1996. Many of her films are in permanent collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, some of which have been translated into French and Japanese.

In 2003, Chenzira created and served as co-director (with M. Bahati Kuumba) of ORAL NARRATIVES AND DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY, a joint venture between Spelman College and the Durban Institute of Technology, where she designed and taught workshops primarily for Zulu students at DIT.

Her distinctive body of work spans fiction, documentary, animation, performance, experimental narratives, and interactive cinema. Her film work includes "Alma’s Rainbow," one of the first 35mm independent films by an African-American woman, along with "Hair Piece: a film for nappyheaded people," "Zajotaand the Boogie Spirit," "My Own TV" and HERadventure. "Queen Sugar" marks her directorial debut for television. (03/19)

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