African Dancer (aka Owen)

“Good Dancing Restores The Community To Wholeness”
(African proverb)

The third grade at Germantown Academy has been studying Africa since they returned from Christmas vacation.  Among the topics they’ve studied are masks, stories, food, culture, geography, music; but, mostly importantly, they studied DANCE.

The students have  been working each week this year with Jeannie Osayande, director of the Dunya Performing Arts Company, and drummers from company.

Yesterday, just before early dismissal for yet another (!) snow storm, the third grade presented their dance performance  to a full house  of parents, friends and all the Lower School students in the arts center. It was a fabulous show.

There was even a surprise appearance yesterday by a Chakaba, a masked stilt dancer. The Chakaba brings blessings to festivities. There was also a demonstration of the Afro-Brazilian martial art of Capoeira. And the show ended with a rousing dance by the entire Lower School faculty!!

Owen’s class did a dance from the West African countries of Mali, Guinea and Senegal called the “Mandiani.”   It is performed traditionally in the celebration of ‘Coming of Age’ ceremonies. Mandiani is also performed at weddings and other social events and is also one of the fastest, most energetic and exciting dances of West Africa.

Then it was back to the Lower School and the third graders read aloud their original African fables. Owen’s was titled “How the Leopard Got Its Spots,” and was a beautifully illustrated and bound book that he had made. (He hasn’t brought his book home yet, but I’ll scan the pages and post when he does.)

Photos from the day are here.

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