All levels are welcome in Afro Club. Don't miss this special class offered only at UMA.
Sundays 3:30 - 4:30 pm
Sanchel Brown was in Senegal for several weeks this summer, working as a teaching assistant and generally upping her game as a fierce footwork dancers who walks with folkloric dances of the African continent and the club dances of her hometown of Baltimore.
Sanchel's class, formerly known as B'more Afro House is now, more simply, Afro Club is back with new material and a deeper connection to the lineages it weaves together. Sanchel is particularly invested in Saba, a dance style of Senegal that is polyrhythmic, complex, and fast paced. Saba, like Baltimore Club, is a quick stepping, high kicking, hold nothing back dance of power and spirit.
Below, Sanchel talks about having to proove her dancing game in front of a very critical audience of neighborhood kids on her most recent trip to Senegal.
I’d never imagined the day when children could make me so nervous while dancing. After years of dancing on many stages, platforms, and auditions the need to prove myself couldn’t top my test to prove my skills to the Senegalese children of Mbour. Mbour is a small village right outside of Dakar, the capital and central city of Senegal, with tons of cement buildings, dirt roads, buses, taxes, and the beautiful reminder of nature’s elements existing all in one time.
Concluding my two week training program my friend, who is also a drummer by profession, showed me around his home village. He welcomed my request to dance with some of the top dancers of the village whom also perform with a local company of four generations, Sillaba de Thiaroye. When the time came, the drummers of the village gathered their materials and a young dancer signaled me to follow along. As the drums struck the complex rhythms of Sabar children came by the doves to see what the noise was all about. Five, ten, fifteen, and several showed their faces in what now was a huge crowd and my heart sank. My only intention was to sharpen my skills and gain some great footage to place in the film version of Home to Homeland (shameless plug). I wasn’t expecting to perform.
I didn’t intend to lose my freshly gained Africa approved “card” so as the rhythms began and my feet burned on the hot grounds I started to dance Sabar. I struggled to catch some of the steps that seemed so natural for my dance partner. Some children chuckled. Some tried to show me how it’s really done. Some watched to see if I’d be able to get it. Some of the dancers encouraged me to use my arms simultaneously with the legs and to catch the hidden rhythms. Soon I picked it up and gave a final performance of the movements learned. I caught a small applause from my tiny critics! Had I done a good job with capturing and performing the hardest dance of centuries?
In March of this past year, UMA produced the premiere of Sanchel's show Home to Homeland. If you're interested in supporting the show, contact Sanchel: firstname.lastname@example.org