West African Dance Workshop on the Beach in Jacmel
I found out earlier this year that Ferlo was planning a dance retreat in Haiti. I knew that there was going to be a focus on Haitian dance forms, but I also wondered if there was room for some classes in West African Dance at the retreat. After speaking with Ferlo, we both found that including West African Dance classes was a natural connection that actually made a LOT of sense. It paved a way for Africans within the Diaspora to connect, learn, and grow, while working together towards a common goal. So after the performance of my inaugural choreography with Kofago Dance Ensemble, I was on a plane bound for Haiti. I was accompanied by my brother Yuma Bellomee (aka Docta Yew) and my teacher Medoune Yacine Gueye (aka Papa Dame), so I knew that the music was going to be nice!
We arrived in Haiti on July 3rd. Ferlo met us at the Airport, along with some of his other guest, who were arriving from Montreal, Canada. After a Two hour ride through the mountains, we arrived in Jacmel. We met up with the DTSL teens and we were all ready to dance!
I taught my first class on July 4th. I taught Doudoumba because of the synergy between the warrior energy of the doudoumba and the Haitian dance Nago. The 2 dance styles share a lot of similarities in movement, rhythms and music! My next class was the next day at the beach. I ended up doing a combination of Bara, Mandiani, Wango, Madaccadon for class to provide a preview of what we would be covering in the days to come. This was also my first time teaching/dancing in sand, which was an experience in itself!