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September 2, 2015 / Amberly

Don’t Hide

Don’t Hide

This semester I am partaking in an African Dance class. As part of our lessons we have to keep a weekly journal. In our syllabus there is not a requirement for where this journal should be, so I have decided to explore this class with whoever wants to read.

Here is the criteria: Students must keep personal weekly journals. Entries must include new lessons learned. Journal entries may also include student’s observations, challenges, questions, self-evaluation and response to the course. Journals will be checked from time to time, so be sure to bring your journal to every class. 

The man who plays drums in our class, yelled, “Don’t hide” to us. A room full of primarily white females, most non-dance majors who were trying to incorporate what my teacher calls “African DNA” into our movement. This statement had me pondering for the rest of the day. My first day of class reminded me of the importance of community and connection. Hiding in this environment isn’t possible. Everyone knows who you are, you can’t fake it. The characteristics of African dance is: Earth Bound, Bounce, Reverb, Expression, Connection to all. (I will update this when I remember the proper terms). I could feel myself hiding in the beginning, not sure how fully I wanted to partake in this experience, cautious. After hearing that, I felt myself opening up more to the movements. Knowing that if I let go, I could have the bounce move through me better.

What did I have to lose?

As I tried to move with African DNA, I got stuck, I could not bounce when I walked, it seemed counter intuitive. I could feel myself wanting to get it right. I am reminded that not everything can be understood right away, that this was going to take more than the 14weeks allotted for the course, but in this timeframe, I would make progress.

Our instructor Nii Armah Sowah was very encouraging. He kept reminding us to bounce. He exhibits all the characteristics that he kept reminding us to embrace. He moved in a way that made me feel included with what he is doing, the community aspect.

What we learned this lesson #3: Since it was my first lesson, but day three of the class there was a lot for me to learn. Ending chants, honoring the drummers, the five aspects of African DNA, and the four movements we learned. At this moment I still have no idea what I am saying when I am responding to the chants, I don’t know what the movements are, but I am understanding the need to embrace the culture around the dance.

Obviously, (or not obviously) I am not an expert and so my statements should be taken with a grain of salt and a bit of empathy. I should also clarify that this all pertains to Ghana and West African culture.

Here is a video I found of the ending celebrations of the class.



Leave a Comment
  1. Mindy Anne / Sep 5 2015 10:26 PM

    Fascinating! Sounds way to scary for me.

  2. Janet Grant / Sep 2 2015 4:24 PM

    It sounds like a marvelous class. You will probably dance differently on the dance floor when you go out on the week-ends. More rhythm.

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