At one time or another we’ve all tried our hand, or foot rather, at attempting to “break it down” on the dance floor. This doesn’t mean the attempts have resulted in much success. In fact some people can even be a bit dangerous when they’re trying to bust a move.
Temple’s own African hip-hop dance team is one organization on campus that really knows how to scorch the floor. They literally get low and take a unique style of dancing straight from the roots of African culture. On top of all that, add 10 girls with some serious attitude and you can forget about the outdated Electric Slide.
With influences from African countries like Congo, Liberia, Senegal and the Ivory Coast, the African hip-hop dance team blends a rich African culture into modern hip-hop.
“We try to mix African dance moves with modern hip-hop music, and hip-hop moves with traditional African music,” said Fatou Ndiaye, the team’s president and choreographer. Ndiaye said there are a wide variety of African dances from different countries. Styles like Dombolo from Congo, Mbalax from Senegal, and Mapouka from the Ivory Coast are just a few of the traditional dances that influence the team’s unique routines.
Ndiaye has previous experience with African and hip-hop dance. Before coming to Temple, Ndiaye organized a similar type of team in France while studying at CEFAM business school in Lyon. Originally Senegalese, Ndiaye’s knowledge of dance is literally based in all corners of the world.
“This is really the first year that we expect the team to take off at Temple though,” Ndiaye said.
Last year the team was in its infancy, but according to Ndiaye, the possibilities are endless in regards to what they hope to accomplish. Plans for performances at Temple basketball games during half time and at the Temple carnival are under way already.
“Right now we’ll take any opportunity offered to perform,” Ndiaye said.
The team’s vice president, Christian Dunbar, helps manage events and organize the schedule for the dance team. This atmosphere is a little different than what he is used to. Dunbar is on a football scholarship at Temple playing tight end while the Owls are hootin’ down the gridiron. Originally from Liberia, Dunbar also has deep ties to African culture. He isn’t much of a dancer, but as vice president, he greatly contributes to the progression of the dance team’s success and exposure.
The team is passionate about what they do as an organization, as their dance expresses energy and finesse.
“‘Practice, learn, and perform’ is the basic motto of the team,” Ndiaye said.
And they do perform. Sophomore Tia Jackson has been dancing for quite some time with experience in different dance genres.
“The type of style we use is jazz related,” Jackson said. “There’s a lot of creativity involved as well.” The team’s dancers consist of freshmen to seniors, and they all bring a great personality onto the dance floor when it is time to perform.
Aside from the dancers in the spotlight, advisors are intricate to the team’s organization and promotion. Madeleine Kimbakal works with Ndiaye in choreographing many of the team’s routines. Ndiaye ‘s brother, Alassan Ndiaye, helps and advises the team. Late Lawson is another helping hand behind the scenes who coordinates sites for performance as well as much of the music that the team uses for their routines. The hard work that these individuals contribute to the success of the team suggests for a very promising future.
According to Ndiaye, the team’s next performance will most likely be before Christmas break, so keep your ears open for the date. And just think: not only will you be digging the dance team’s mojo, you’ll also have an opportunity to learn something about a beautiful tradition that the African culture embraces and brings right here to Temple.
T.C. Mazar can be reached at email@example.com.