Tânia Amaral will demonstrate her “afro-fusion belly dance” at the Vault Café on Feb. 21 and teach workshops at Harbour City Theatre on Feb. 22 and 23. (Photo courtesy iRothemberger)

Crimson Coast Dance Society salutes African dance during Black History Month

Dancers from Mozambique, Rwanda and Cameroon to give demonstrations and lessons

A trio of dancers hailing from across Africa are heading to Nanaimo this week to demonstrate and teach traditional and modern African dance.

Tânia Amaral, originally from Mozambique and now living in Lillooet, will be joined by Isaac Gasangwa of Rwanda and Boris Fotsing Talla of Cameroon for a dance introduction and discussion at the Vault Café on Feb. 21.

The dancers will then teach workshops at Harbour City Theatre over the next two days.

Amaral said the event at the Vault, African Connections, is meant to familiarize the audience with the kinds of dances she, Gasangwa and Fotsing Talla will be teaching over the weekend, but she’s open to a broader discussion as well.

“People can ask us questions about our type of dance, our roots, traditions, any kind of questions that people can have,” she said. “Sometimes people don’t have this kind of contact with people that were born and raised in Africa.”

Gasangwa and Fotsing Talla will both teach afro-beats, as well as afro-fusion hip-hop and ndombolo, respectively.

Amaral will be presenting “afro-fusion belly dance,” a concept of her own design in which she incorporates dance moves, music, clothing and accessories from across the continent.

“Maybe because I was born and raised there I see that we have so much diversity in terms of culture,” she said. “And a lot of times people just see the African continent as one country and I’m trying to show that, no, we are, like, 55 countries and each country has their own ethic groups that sometimes you don’t see so much representation of them.”

Amaral said that by bringing those elements together she hopes to move people to “dig in,” learn about and take an interest in Africa’s distinct populations. She said dance is more about communication than it is about entertainment.

“We have a different way of sharing, a different way of communicating and at the same time we have so many similarities from the north of Africa to South Africa,” Amaral said. “So I think it’s interesting to bring these things together and try to share to the world and say, ‘Listen, we are here and we have so much to show.’”

WHAT’S ON … African Connections at the Vault Café, 499 Wallace St., on Friday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. Admission by donation at the door. Classes at Harbour City Theatre, 25 Victoria Rd., on Saturday, Feb. 22 and Sunday, Feb. 23 from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Registration $25 per class, $20 if more than one. Available at www.crimsoncoastdance.org.


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