|Photo by Kola Shobo|
What Is 'Afro-Urban'?
Afro-Urban describes the various contributions of dance, music, culture, art, and expressions by people of African heritage in urban settings. This includes and is not limited to Afrobeat (Nigeria), Azonto (Ghana), Breaking/Popping/Turf/Vogue (USA), Bounce/Second-Line (New Orleans), Chicago Stepping, Coupé Décalé (Ivory Coast), Dancehall (Jamaica), Jazz/Tap/Swing/Lindy-Hop (USA), House (UK), Kizomba/Semba (Angola), Kompa (Haiti), Ndombolo (Congo), Merengue (Dominican Republic), Pantsula (South Africa), Rumba/Rueda (Cuba), Afro-Samba (Brazil), Soca (Trinidad and Tobago) and countless more
I love to dance, I have been dancing as far as I can remember. I'll dance almost anywhere. The first time I choreographed a piece I was 10 years old and I got all my cousins to learn, dress up and perform at parties. Dance is what keeps me going. I am committed to sharing this love and exploration of dance with young people, because I believe that young people really matter. In the semi-professional and professional world I have been instructing & choreographing various styles of dance for over 13 years. If you ask me, most times I do a pretty decent job of it. Usually what gets me going is dance from Africa and all the derivatives of it. Dancehall, Soukous, Coupe Decale, Naija, Hip-life, Azonto, Afro-House, Kwaito, Soca, Zouk, Kompa, Kuduro, Variations of hip hop from all coasts and corners of the United States & the world. If it's on the streets, in the clubs, in the villages and I know about it, then I am probably trying to get down with it.
- Dance is Liberation: A celebration of human life and expression. I believe dance is a tool that can be employed in social constructs of the individual and their community; a method to respond to bleak aspects of society, build movement and express the world we want to live in.
- Dance is the Future: A way to engage with our youth, to inform them of the past and guide them to the future. I believe dance is essential to the continuity of life.
- Dance is Health: As a form of physical activity and emotional exercise, dance is a crucial element in the holistic operations of our mind, body and soul.
- Dance is for Everyone: A way to work together with people from all demographics & 'experience' levels of life. I believe that everyone can and should dance.
- Respect for Culture: I work to be respectful of all cultures. I attempt to do this in a manner that avoids exploitation, stealing or ignorance of the world's cultures.
I came up with name when I was 16, because to me I felt that dance was a thing I had no choice but to give it all up to. I couldn't help it, it owned me, captured me but also was the thing that set me free. I had a whole poem and story about it. The term is loaded and I get confused and awkward looks about it, I have considered changing it, but I think I am going to honor that 16 year old, who dancing was such a thing to, and who came up with complex and slightly inappropriate names. As an adult, I am happy to have it be an invitation to have conversations about what may feel uncomfortable.