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Saturday, May 25, 2024
The Observer

Dance Africa performs at showcases, flash mob to spread awareness of African culture

Dance Africa, a 14-member dance troupe at the University of Notre Dame, performs modern dances from different regions of the continent. They recently performed at Black Student Association's Black Renaissance event and at a flash mob in Duncan Student Center on Wednesday, Feb. 22. 

Senior Lekabel Abul, a co-captain of Dance Africa, is originally from Benin and Cameroon but has also lived in Washington D.C. He explained how Dance Africa hopes to spread the word about African culture and dances. 

"The main goal with Dance Africa is to … teach people about African culture as well as our dances. A lot of people assume that all African dances are the same, very tribal with drums. There is that aspect but we have also evolved,” Abul said. “So, a lot of our dances are modern African dance genres like Afrobeats, Amapiano and Congolese music.”

Abul said that the troupe’s members are from all over Africa.

“I have a co-captain who’s from South Africa. We also have some people from Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana,” she said. 

The team was started two years ago but has recently begun the process of securing funding from SAO.

“At first we did small performances mainly with [African Student Association (ASA)] whenever they had events for a showcase. However, Dance Africa is trying to become its own official club now,” Abul said. 

This past week, Dance Africa performed as part of a flash mob for Black history week programming organized by the Mendoza College of Business and the Black Graduate Students Association. 

“They wanted Black students to come dressed in business casual attire, take pictures … and just show off Black pride. In addition to that, they were different performances. We did a performance with … maybe about six or seven of our members and at the end, everyone that was present joined in,” Abul said. 

For junior Fabrice Uwihirwe, joining Dance Africa was a natural way to keep engaging with aspects of his culture that he was interested in. Uwihirwe was born in Rwanda and moved to Dayton, Ohio when he was around seven years old.

“My sister started an African dance troupe when she was in college, and then she also started a contemporary Black hip-hop dance group. So, I’ve kind of grown up around dance,” he said. 

Uwihirwe said that he was inspired to join the group after watching one of their “Africa on the Quad” performances during his first-year at the University.

Sophomore Frances Ubogu is an international student from Lagos, Nigeria. She said that though she had performed African dances in elementary school, she had lost touch with it as a teenager since she had been homeschooled. 

“Coming to college, it’s been cool to just pick that up again. I feel like I’m more in tune with my ancestors, doing the footwork and stuff even though I’m not good at it,” Ubogu said. 

Abul said that the troupe will begin learning new dances in the coming weeks and is open to new members who want to join. 

“We’d love to have anyone who’s interested join us. Just reach out to us on Instagram, our handle is @dance_africa_nd. If you don’t want to join but are interested in our club, our next performance is March 24, one of the events in the ASA showcase,” Abul said.