#DanceoftheDiaspora Event RecapJan 20, 2021 08:00AM ● By Nana Ama Addo
Dance in traditional African societies existed to lead soldiers into war, retain culture, express joy, send messages and more. Through the dispersing of cultures that were a result of the horrors of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, dances in African cultures spread and morphed into even more subcultures in the diaspora, while maintaining the essence of Africa at heart. In continuing to serve Africa and its diaspora, FunTimes Magazine sought to honor the resistance of the African Diaspora through dance with the #DanceoftheDiasporaChallenge and #DanceoftheDiaspora event.
On Friday, January 6, at 6 p.m EST, dancers with cultural backgrounds from around the globe met with the FunTimes community on Zoom. Panelists TheBoyPerbi, a Ghana based Dance Artist, Careen “Reeny Star'' Walton, a Jamaica based dancer and Co-founder of DanceFyah Studio, Watson Saintsulne, Haitian born, New York raised dancer and owner of Hispañiola Latin Dance Company and Stephen Jackson, a well known African American Dance and Fitness Instructor, spoke about their dance origins and inspirations, gave advice to budding professional dancers and provided dance tutorials to audiences.
Music has allowed subcultures of the African Diaspora to move in a uniform rhythm. In recent times, the globalization of Afrobeat music has reconnected the African Diaspora in a unique way. Artists like Wizkid, Burna Boy, Davido and Beyoncé are turning audiences heads towards the continent, continuing a legacy interrupted by the slave trade. At the event, audiences honored this reconnection by learning African Diaspora dances such as the Telli, Bachata, Whining and more.
TheBoyPerbi, creator of ‘The Telli’ dance, gained international exposure through his dance videos, dance movement creation and collaborations with various Afrobeats artists. He has worked with artists such as King Promise, Mr. Eazi and more, and despite his impact, his Ghanaian parents and others in the society struggle to recognize dance as a legit profession. Nonetheless, his impact on the Afrobeats dance scene is undeniable, and through carving his own legacy, TheBoyPerbi continues paving the way for the next generation of Afrobeat dancers in Ghana and beyond.
Watson Saintsulne specializes in Bachata music, which originates in present day Dominican Republic, and is a blend of African and Spanish influences. In a Latin American dance genre, his experience has been that other Bachata dancers initially doubt his abilities because of the color of his skin, but once he starts dancing those perceptions fade away.
Careen “Reeny Star” Watson always had a knack for dance. After dabbling in different professional study areas, she fully accepted her calling as a dancer and co-founded of DanceFyah, a company that provides dance classes and choreography services. With specialties in Folk, Dancehall and Soca genres, Careen continues partnering with organizations to bring forth expression and confidence through movement.
Steven Jackson inspires his students to hone their expression through movement. He cites the beat of the drum as the heartbeat of various foundations of dance, including in Latin Dance. With over 20 years of experience under his belt, the advice he provided to dancers was a cradle of wisdom for artists to soak up.
Check out our #DanceoftheDiasporaChallenge on Facebook and Instagram! The choreography is a blend of Afrobeats, Jamaican Dancehall, South African and African American moves, created by @Asieduas_Imprint. Use the hashtag #DanceoftheDiasporaChallenge to see contestants put their own spin on the choreography.
Join us this Friday, January 22nd, 2021 at 6pm on Zoom as we continue bringing Changemakers of the diaspora to the forefront. This time, we are collaborating with the Solutions Journalism Network to present ‘Diaspora Disconnect: Part II’. Join the event here.
Nana Ama Addo is a writer, multimedia strategist, film director and storytelling artist. She graduated with a BA in Africana Studies from the College of Wooster, and has studied at the University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Visit her storytelling brand at www.asieduasimprint.blog, and connect with her creative agency on Instagram: @chitheagency.