Tuesday, July 29, 2008

African Drum and Dance Club at Cabrini Connections

Hello all! So during my time here at Cabrini Connections I've been thinking about ways to improve the after school programming. We currently have a number of clubs meeting including art club, tech club and writing club, which bring students together with dedicated volunteers to work on ongoing projects that develop particular talents and skills. However, as there is currently no music related after-school programming (and from the ubiquity of Lil Wayne around here these kids clearly like listening to music) I've been trying to organize some type of music club that we can start when tutoring begins in the fall. Since I had such a great time in the NU African Drum and Dance Ensemble during the last 2 years, I've been trying to find a group of dedicated volunteers that could help me coordinate an African Drumming and Dancing club here
at Cabrini Connections.

Yesterday, I got in touch with a man by the name of Youssou Diatta who is a Senegalese drummer. He is really excited to share his love of drumming and knowledge of Wolof culture with the kids beginning this fall. The particular style of drumming that he will be teaching is known as Sabar. If you're interested, here's a good video on youtube where you can learn about Sabar, see some of the amazing dances and listen to the rhythms. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTDC7hJEqT4&feature=related

I'm still trying to find a couple more dedicated volunteers who have some knowledge of African dance to help teach the dancing side of things, so if you or anyone you know might be interested in volunteering a couple hours every week down at Chicago and Halsted engaging these youth with music and dance and other aspects of African culture, please let me know!

The continuous presence of a dynamic african drum and dance club should be a great opportunity to get more kids involved with the program and perhaps introduce some of them to new forms of artistic expression or spark an interest in learning a bit more about their cultural heritage. At the very least this should provide a positive outlet for for kids once every week. As a drummer, I can vouch for the cathartic power of whacking drums at maximum volume for an hour or so (which is probably what Sabar drumming appears to be at first glance!) Additionally, I'm hoping that the kids will be dedicated enough to eventually put together a show, or at least a couple dances, that we can use as an outreach tool. We could even eventually have the tech club, art club and writing club collaborate with us on a big event that brings together the whole community! If you can't already tell, I'm really excited to be involved with this and hope that I am currently planting the seeds for something that will grow to be an active and sustainable club with committed students and volunteers. What exact shape it will end up taking is anybody's guess, but I promise I'll keep you informed.

Be benen yoon!

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