Cumbe's new workshop series celebrates the feminine power, energy and artistry within the African and African Diaspora world
Esraa Warda will hold an exclusive Moroccan Chaabi workshop at Cumbe. Photo credit: Cumbe Dance

Cumbe Center for African and Diaspora Dance just announced a new series of workshops to celebrate women’s empowerment, beginning Sunday, March 10.

“This month is all about the feminine energy within the African and African Diaspora world through dance and song,” Cumbe announced. “We are excited to give the feminine energy and power a special highlight this month by making space for some of the most powerful teachers, like West African Dance master teacher Marie Basse-Wiles, to share and express their creativity and techniques.”

During Women’s History Month in March, Cumbe will not only highlight the dance styles throughout the diaspora that celebrate the woman and capture feminine energy, but also give the teaching platform to dynamic women teachers.

Také Phillips will host a Doun Doun dance class. Photo credit: Cumbe

“Cumbe celebrates Women’s History Month on multiple levels,” said Jimena Martinez, Cumbe’s co-founder and executive director. “We celebrate our community of students, who are overwhelmingly women, and honor our inspiring, deeply knowledgeable and powerful female teaching artists.”

The series will kick off with two workshops on Sunday, March 10. HoopYogini Hoop Sensual Dance is a hula hoop dance class that moves the spine through its full range of motion while strengthening the core, a practice that cultivates a deep sense of calm, encourages imagination, and develops strength and flexibility. The following workshop, Doun Doun Dance, is a unique and fun combination of dancing and drumming that originated from Guinea, West Africa, and is typically done by women.

“It’s a great way to connect the mind and body through movement and rhythm, release tension and express joy,” Cumbe stated.

Penny Godboldo (left) will bring the Dunham Technique to Cumbe’s dance floor.

The following weekend, from Friday, March 15, through Sunday, March 17, will be dedicated to the Dunham Technique, an original, African-American dance form, created by dance pioneer and social activist Katherine Dunham. Informed by the great traditional dances of the African Diaspora, the Dunham Technique creates well-muscled, dynamic dancers with supple spines and well-articulated torsos, teaching students to move with control and authority on this journey of self-knowledge through dance.

On Sunday, March 24, master teacher Marie Basse-Wiles will take over Cumbe’s dance floor with Senegalese Djembe. Basse-Wiles, one of the first Senegalese dancers to teach West African dance in New York City, will take students of all levels through the rhythms and steps of the djembe styles from the Khasonke people of Senegal.

The series will conclude on Sunday, March 31, with an exclusive dance experience exploring one of North Africa’s popular traditional dances, Moroccan Chaabi. Chaabi means “of people” and represents the culture, voice and spirit of the people. While this dance has some similarities to Middle Eastern belly dance movements, Chaabi is decidedly African. As is common with African-rooted dance traditions, Moroccan Chaabi is body positive, women-centered, improvisational and communal.

Marie Basse-Wiles will host a Senegalese Djembe class. Photo credit: Flickr.com

“We explore the many dimensions of female energy through African/Diaspora dance,” explained Martinez. “We celebrate the power and exuberance in Doun Doun Dance, core-centered sensuality in Congolese and Moroccan Chaabi dance, both the fierceness and nurturing aspects of the maternal in Afro-Cuban dances for the Yoruba deity Yemanjá, and the beauty and sweetness in the dances of her sister, Yoruba deity Oshun, just to name a few.”

Cumbe Dance is one of a small handful of studios in Central Brooklyn to focus solely on the practice of Diaspora-inspired recreational dance. Through classes and cultural programs, Cumbe prides itself on creating a safe space for everyone to learn from and about the beauty and diversity of Africa and the African Diaspora.

And if you can’t make it to the workshops, Cumbe also has several other classes on the roster that capture the sensuality of femininity. Regular classes like Samba, Afro-Cuban Explosión!, Dancehall, Traditional and Contemporary Congolese and Soca embrace those very special elements that bring out sensuality, healing and love within us all.

All levels of dance are welcome to join the workshops. For more information and pricing, visit www.cumbedance.org. All classes will take place at Cumbe Dance, 1368 Fulton Street in Bedford Stuyvesant.

Isamar Gonzalez will introduce dancers to the sensuality of hoop dance. Photo credit: HoopYogini

Women Empowerment Dance Workshop Series at Cumbe

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