Our Lives Matter, Our Expressions Matter: Dance With Us this Summer

Photo Credit: Rick Wilking / Reuters

This post is here later than I planned, because it seemed impossible to write. Anything.

But there's good stuff here... keep reading.

If you haven't been living under a rock, in the past couple of weeks, you may have felt your heart break again, your hopelessness rise again, your despair take center stage again. If you are Black or Brown you may have felt unconstrained anger, fear and confusion at the rate of senseless state sanctioned killings of people who look like you.

The words I've written are only a minute and basic description of how I've felt as I am unable to properly write how: Exhausted I feel at yet one more hashtag. Furious I feel at yet one more act of killing, discrimination, displacement, appropriation, abuse, disregard for Black people. Confused I feel about .what. I. should. do. Stuck I feel between the need to quit and the realization that 'it' would win if I do.

Some words written by Alicia Garza on July 7, 2016, helped dissolve some of the stickiness:

"And while our resistance is righteous, it will always be met with resistance. It is something we should expect. It should be a part of our strategy. What will we do when they push back, because we know they will? When they pass more laws that punish us for daring to live, what will we do? How will we respond? When fascists attempt to take control, what will we do?

The only thing I know is that we must, like we have no other fucking choice than to commit ourselves to dreaming. To figuring it out. To making mistakes. To feel, because when we feel we know viscerally why it is that we cannot stop moving forward.

Alton Sterling's family, his 15 year old child, demands that we figure this shit out. Trayvon and Mike and Islan and Penny and Mya and Reneisha and Jordan and Sandra and Pearl are counting on us to figure this shit out.

Because if we don't...if we fall into despair and disbelief, we have already been defeated. And there will still be mothers who have had their children stolen from them, there will still be an empty seat at the table, there will still be despair and disbelief that will laugh in our faces when we dare to be free.

I have committed myself to continuing to dare to be free, to fight to win. I want to win. I want them to stop killing us. Nothing can deter me. No one can stop me from that.

No one.

Nothing."

Dare to be Free. Dare to be FREE!!

A complex phrase.

From the Continent to the Diaspora, people of African descent have created, used, shared their dance as they dare to be free from colonization, human trafficking, war and displacement. WE have made immeasurable and influential contributions to the world, from Hip hop to Jazz, Ndombolo to Afrobeat, Samba to Rueda, Second Line to Swing, Kuduro to (insert here).

Enter Afro Urban Society, a project committed to support, acknowledge and celebrate artists and cultural workers of African descent to do what they do best: Dare us to be free. Support the work of your Bay Area Artists of African Descent. Dare yourself to be Free. Let them know their work, lives, joy MATTER.

Dance.
Dance.

Opportunities this Summer for an Unforgettable Afro-Urban Dance Experience
  • CaliWynd with Shemica Johnson- July 17
  • Deep House with Rashad Pridgen- Sundays beginning July 17
  • Afro-Urban for LGBTQ Families with Nkei- 9/17, 10/15 & 11/5
  • Afro-Uban Dance at The Umoja Festival- Aug 20
  • Afro-Urban Style Hipline Technique with Alicia- July 16 (Ongoing)
  • 8/20 Afro-Urban Dance at The Umoja Festival
  • SAVE THE DATES NOV 17-19 Bacchanal de Afrique 2016!!
For details of each check out our the Newsletter and also subscribe to the FB Event Page

OMCA- Friday July 1: Afro-Party Grooves- Half Hour

Photo by G. Hoffman-Ellis
Why do you dance?
"Because I've been falling into a black hole and music has the lamp."


Sometimes, all we have the music. and the dance.

This Friday... party riders, dance ambassadors, waist whiners, booty poppers, hard hitters, light bringers, beat slayers, life givers. This one is for you. Let's go there.

Meet Nkei Oruche and friends...on the dance floor....
hard, fast, slow, all Afro!
6:30-7:00pm
at the Oakland Museum PLAZA

let us know you're coming

Next Up: Umoja African Festival Oakland- Aug 20, 2016

Photo from Umoja Website
My dear African. Black. Melanin-Rich people,

On August 20, 2016 at Lowell Park, Oakland, don't be a learner. If you can say the following:

I am African. I love Africans. I love Oakland. I love music. I love good food. I love people having a good time. I love multi-generational events. I love free!

Then act right because Umoja Festival is all of these things.

This is an event I look forward to every year. And this year it's extra special, because I will working with the fine folks at Umoja to produce the Dance portion of festival so you know it's going to be LIT!



Come to this.

MAY 16: Brazilian Rhythms:

Percussion Workshop with Thais Bezerra

Monday May 16, 2016
8-10pm
Trybe: 2008 Park Blvd., Oakland
$30 for Drop-In
OPEN TO ALL LEVELS
Free for participants currently enrolled in our adult programs

About Maestrina Thais Bezerra:

Thaís Bezerra is a multi-instrumentalist, producer and educator who specialize in Brazilian folk music. She was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she resides. Bezerra holds a Bachelor Degree in Music from CBM-CEU Conservatório Brasileiro de Música, 2011). In 2014,Bezerra became an Orff certified teacher from the San Francisco School in California, USA. She is currently taking her first semester on music education master program at PROEMUS/UNIRIO (Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro,Brazil).

In addition, Thais is the conductor of two Blocos in Rio: "MULTIBLOCO” and the “Terreirada Cearense (Percussion Ensemble with over 100 percussionists). She also plays with "Bateria Vila Isabel - Swingueira de Noel", one of the Brazilian lead samba school from Rio and she is a member of “Damas de Ferro Brass Band” (a whole female percussion, woodwind and brass ensemble)

Other important work experience as a teacher, conductor and arranger includes an Artist in Residence invited by the Bay Area cultural performance community company "SambaFunk! Carnaval Explosion (www.sambafunk.com)" in preparation for the Carnaval San Francisco and Oakland Carnival 2015 and 2016.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsJpala5kPg

Shak Body: Saturday, Apr 23 + Mini Playlist

SHAKE BODY
A culmination of the 'Afro-Urban Dance Elements' workshop, 'Shake Body' is a dance jam meets class meets open-rehearsal meets party. We will get down to the hottest jams from the Afro-music scape: Afrobeats, Soukouss, Kuduro, Coupe Decale and more. Featuring special guest artists!!

Don't dull, come and Shake Body!!
3:30-5:00pm
$10
Dance Mission Theater
3316 24th Street (corner Mission), San Francisco

Workshop/Class Notes

If you did/are doing a class or workshop with me recently. 
You probably did some of these moves or styles:
  • Azonto/Akayida
  • Etighi
  • Gweta
  • Kuduro
  • Ndombolo
  • Nae Nae
  • Shoki
You'll probably hear/heard any of these songs:
  • Pick Up- Adekunle Gold
  • Zoungou Zongou Dance- Bebeto Bongo
  • My Woman- Patoranking
  • Duro- Tekno
  • Enemy Solo-Psqaure & Awilo
  • Look Like you- Afrobeat Remix
  • Tiguidi- Tour 2 Garde
  • Juju- Noyc ft. Dan Drizzy
  • Shoe Size- Bracket 
  • Woju Remix- Kiss Daniel
  • One Centimeter Remix- Jaguar ft. Iyanya
Also make sure to stay plugged in to for upcoming events/classes to get your afro dance and music.





6-Week Afro-Urban Dance Workshop with Me!!

Afro-Urban Dance Elements
with Nkei Oruche
Featuring Ana La Belle and Shaneeka 'Akemi' Smoot

March 19-April 23, 2016
2:00-3:30pm
Dance Mission Theater
3316 24th Street (corner Mission), San Francisco
$120/6 weeks

SIGN UP HERE

Explore features of African Club and Party dance using popular and high-energy music from the African Diaspora including Afrobeats, Azonto, Coupe Decale, Hip Hop, Kuduro and more.

The Afro-Urban Dance Elements workshop focuses on various features of African Club and Party dance; Freestyle, Solos, Partnering, Line Dance, and Choreography, using popular music from the African Diaspora.The workshop series will close off with a jam session and party-style showcase open to the public.

Open to all levels and interests of dancers from beginner to advanced.

Ciara from Atlanta, Dancing in these Lagos Streets

I probably can't name five Ciara songs off the top of my head, okay probably I can...but I could never pick any Ciara songs as 'MY JAM'. I do know that I think Ciara is like one of THE best dancers in the biz... like it's Micheal, Janet, Ciara. I've said this before, she's BAD.

And I've also said that Afro-Urban Dance and Music is the tool for US to start conversations, to destructs myths, to get to know each other. Us Africans from around the world... whether recent or long long time ago.  I'm tired of the days when I was the only person on either sides of my worlds, cultures that like 'all types'. Looking for even more recognition and intersection across more styles and countries.

I have an extra notch of fancy for Ciara and her dancing. ALSO really appreciate, that she's giving CREDIT, and nod to the experience, to the source, and people. She hired a Nigerian choreographer (albeit the biggest in the game), and although Dolphin estates may not be the 'streetiests' of streets, she is dancing with no shoes on the concrete. Bad-azzzzz... haha.

I mean I know these days the sounds of Nigerian Pop are pretty much American 'Urban' mainstream. What, after all types of collaborations of Nigerian artists with US Rappers & singers, or Instagram postings of Swizz and Alicia keys rocking out to some of the hottest jams from there. Alluva sudden it's cool to be African. I'll take it. Lots more work to be done, but we'll use this.

And what I would have done to be there. Oh shit.

My Favorite clip, of course is the take off solos by the other dancers.




and then this one to Kukere