The Scarlet

A Closer Look at African Diaspora Dance Association: Four Years After Its Creation

Kaila Skeet-Browning, Scarlet Staff

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Persis Adonteng (’22), Morufat Bello (’20), Ayebea Larbi-Tieku (’20), Serina Khalifa (’22) and Michaelle Aristide (’20) rehearse for ADDA’s fall show.

If one of the many people lifting weights in the Bickman Fitness Center on a Sunday afternoon were to take their headphones off for a second and listen, they might be surprised to hear music just as upbeat and catchy as their workout playlist coming from the all-purpose room upstairs, where African Diaspora Dance Association (ADDA) holds their three hour practices every week.

Started just four years ago, ADDA is a fairly recent addition to the roughly 130 clubs at Clark. It has grown tremendously since its creation, not only in numbers, but also in terms of choreography and diverse contributions from members, as one of the original founders Kathy Koranteng described. Koranteng, who is a senior and has always commuted to Clark, said that commuting can make it difficult to find a community on campus. Joining African Dance was a way for her to find like-minded people and help introduce African Diaspora culture to other students who may not be familiar with it.

Armely Pichardo, a senior from the Dominican Republic, has also been part of the club from the start. She explained that she joined because she felt a need for dancing that reminded her of home. Throughout high school she did a lot of cultural dancing and said it was difficult to adjust to only dancing ballet and modern while she was here.

While many members have been dancing with ADDA throughout their Clark career, Tiana Golding, a senior who just joined ADDA this year, explained that it doesn’t take long to gain the benefits of having a space to take a break from classes to dance and celebrate African Diaspora culture. She spent the previous three years at Clark dancing hip-hop, and decided to join ADDA because she felt the black diaspora community on campus is so close-knit. She remarked that ADDA provided an important space “not only for us, but also to teach and learn. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship with us and the rest of the Worcester and Clark community.”

Ayebea Larbi-Tieku (‘20), one of the co-leaders of the club, also spoke to the benefits of using dance to share one’s culture with a greater audience: “It’s hard to go up to someone and say, ‘hey listen, this is what my culture is about.’ It sticks better if you hear a good song or see a dance because you want to know where it comes from.” Larbi-Tieku is from Ghana, and like Pichardo, joined ADDA because it provides familiarity, a space that feels like home. This sentiment is one that simply stepping into the room and watching a few minutes of practice confirms.

Sprinkled throughout the intensity and focus of the dancers, there were many of moments of playfulness, laughter and teasing. As well as being a comfort zone, it seems to provide a place for growth, as Chineme Ezema (‘20), the other co-leader of the club learned. “It’s been a way for me to explore my identity,” she said. “This was the first time I’ve been part of a team for dancing, and I realized I really love performing.” ADDA will be performing on November 16 and 17 in Atwood Hall, as well as this weekend for the World Cup event sponsored by ISA and Club Soccer.

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A Closer Look at African Diaspora Dance Association: Four Years After Its Creation