Kicking off the beginning of Black History Month, the African Student Association (ASA) and Fusion presented the AFROWAVE dance workshop in the Kemper Auditorium last Friday. Attendees had the opportunity to learn about African culture through Afro-Caribbean and Latinx dance styles.
Organizer Louis Leone ’24 spoke on the motivation behind hosting the event, highlighting the timing of the event as a chance to bring in students and introduce Black and African culture to a larger community.
“The purpose of the event was just to expose a little bit of [Black and] African culture into the space in Phillips Academy because it’s Black History Month… through dancing, which is a powerful form of expression. We had over half the students there who don’t identify as Black or African, I could tell they were learning and having a deeper connection about our culture and our sense of expression and identity. I think just building those bridges of connections is really important as a community during Black History Month,” said Leone.
ASA Co-president Wambui Nyiha ’25 described the preparation process that went into preparing the event. Nyiha highlighted how it took a joint effort from the entire board in delegating tasks to create a welcoming space.
“[It took] getting together the whole board and making sure that each person has an assigned task to do. This can be a communication task through reaching out to members to secure the space, or just reaching out to different faculty. It can be like a social media task which is just taking pictures for our events and managing our Instagram page and our TikTok page. Mainly keeping everyone together and making sure everyone feels like they have a place in the club, and specifically bringing everyone together and making sure everyone feels like they have a place in the club,” said Nyiha.
Attendee Avea Cleare ’27 expressed her admiration for the energy of the leading dancers and expressed her enthusiasm at successfully mastering the dance. Cleare commented on how the dance workshop was an opportunity to explore dancing.
“It’s hard, and it’s really tiring. If you saw a lot of the people there, they were all sweaty and tired. Everyone in there was a little winded, it was described as a [high-intensity interval training] workout. I [also] learned that I can’t reverse in a certain move, I will fall over trying.
All of these dances look super cool and aren’t super complicated if you can get a grasp on it, so I bet you could do it too,” said Cleare.
Despite the tight timeline, many students were able to learn a lot of dance moves and come together in a joint act. Nyiha spoke on the next steps following the event, with the hope of performing a more refined choreography after more practice.
“My favorite part of the event was definitely learning the dance and seeing it [come]… together in the end. We’re going to try and perform the choreo that we learned at Black People Got Talent this Friday…We’re definitely going to have a couple more practice sessions before that because we need a bit more practice, but it was really fun just watching everyone learn the dance and actually manage to put it all together in the end,” said Nyiha.
Leone elaborated on his hopes for the event to act as a way for the attendees to feel more connected to each other. He described how the workshop allowed students to try new things in a supportive community.
“I hope that we all walked away feeling a little less different from each other, and I think even if one student managed to do that, it’s a huge success. When we’re all in there learning how to dance, when we’re in that atmosphere, in that room, we stop thinking about anything else but ‘I gotta get this technique.’ It’s like I could feel that vibrancy whenever we got a dance move correct, or whenever an instructor showed us a really hard move, and it was like ‘Oh that’s going to be hard.’ So, I just hope that everyone walked away feeling just a little less different and more into it,” said Leone.
Black People Got Talent will take place from 8:30-9:30 pm in Susie’s as part of Black History Month.