Cumbe: Center for African & Diaspora Dance has officially entered double digits!

The dance school celebrated its 10th birthday this week, marking a decade of bringing culture and life to its Brooklyn community through the many changes that have happened around it.

In 2012, dancer and choreographer Pat Hall, longtime nonprofit executive Jimena Martinez and lifelong artist advocate Dominique Bravo joined forces to create the space where African dance and culture can live and thrive.

Cumbe turns 10. Photo: Supplied.

The team set out to house the varied traditions and dances of the African Diaspora – offering adult classes in West African, Afro-Cuban, Afro–Brazilian, Afro–Haitian, Caribbean, Modern, Dancehall, dance fitness, Chicago Style Steppin, Samba and Congolese dance among others, as well as creative movement classes for ages 1 to 4.

Over the years, Cumbe has created a thriving dance community, first from its original location in Fort Greene and now its new home in Bed-Stuy. It has weathered storms, including the past two years of COVID-19-induced uncertainty and closures and a time of homelessness, but it has remained active and continued to offer the dynamic dance classes and workshops for which it is best known.

Cumbe turns 10. Photo: Supplied.

The dance school has worked with local schools, organizations, corporations and small businesses to bring special programming, performances, ongoing classes, immersive experiences and free events, and from its location at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza, it offers a diverse range of classes, workshops and cultural events.

Co-founder and Executive Director Jimena Martinez said hitting the ten year mark felt amazing, alongside the community the dance school had built.

“Over the last ten years, a whole constellation of folks — thousands of students, teaching artists, musicians, staff, partners and funders — have come together to learn, dance, drum, laugh and support each other as we dive deep into African/Diaspora culture,” she said.

“They have sustained each other and Cumbe — in the past two years we’ve truly experienced all the ways in which dance is medicine.”

Jimenez said the team was kicking off the next ten years with “some dynamite new programs.”

“Watch out for Afro’Dance Emerges in February, where we’ll bring together some of the brightest movers and innovators in the scene and genre with workshops, shows, film screenings and conversations.  And a celebration of Katherine Dunham’s legacy and choreography in the spring.”

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