Yesterday, I introduced the EECM Community Stress Center whose services include tax preparation, blood pressure screenings, employment counseling, and...African dance.
Here's a video of Sheba Gittens, our instructor for the day, showing us the moves. Out of respect for the privacy of the participants (including me -- no one needs to see my three left feet on video!), we videoed her doing a demonstration dance.
So, why dance? Above all, because dance is a form of release. Participants are invited to let go of their anxieties and worries and lose themselves in the rhythms and movements. Sheba refers to "connecting your heart with the drum" and then letting it move you. While there is structure to African dance -- certain movements are repeated frequently -- there is also freedom. Participants can find their own movements that express their emotions and worries about mounting bills, looming unemployment, or family struggles.
African dance is also communal. Participants join together in the dance and draw strength and comfort from that solidarity. At the workshop, everyone was supportive and accepting. Sheba was all smiles, praising my clumsy efforts and liberally distributing high fives as we slowly mastered the steps and gained confidence in our movements.
Tuesday was our first African dance workshop at the EECM Community Stress Center, but I for one hope that there will be many more to come!