Today was a big reflection day. Dance was the main theme, and it didn’t disappoint. First was Professor Rosa’s class. It was interesting to see the Chinese students uncomfortable at first. They loosened up after a little while and some were picking up the moves quickly. Professor Rosa definitely did not go easy on them because by the end I was sweating a ton! During the class, she split us into groups with the Chinese students. We collaborated and created a dance routine that combined all the different types of dance we had to offer. Something that surprised me was one of our Chinese partners wanted to add the “moving sculpture” into our routine—an exercise where we improvise and move through the negative spaces within the group. We had performed this at the lecture demonstration, so this must have been something significant to him. Our routine and the class was a success. The students were laughing, smiling, and exhausted—in a good way! I hope they enjoyed the different movements. I loved that even though some were uncomfortable with the movements, and language was a barrier at times, they still kept going.
I’m really thankful and grateful every day for the opportunities and lessons I have learned not only from AADC, but also from the arts in general. I never thought I would have an opportunity to visit Beijing. It makes me sad that I will not be in the dance company after this trip because of graduation. I feel like I have only touched on the lessons and things I need to learn through the African diaspora. I have changed so much since I joined AADC last semester. I feel more love for dance, communication, and people. Professor Rosa has opened so many doors for me. The dance company is inspiring, and it has helped me open my eyes to other cultures.
—Grace, Senior, Communications and Culture
Wow…It was wonderful to see how music can bring people together. All of our differences seemed to slip away while learning the vast amount of history and culture surrounded by the Djembe. Who would have thought there was so much to learn.
—Jaylen, Freshman, Biochemistry
I had an awesome time teaching and sharing the Djembe with the students here in China. It’s an honor to share my culture with people who are so enriched by culture already. The students accepted and grasped the history respectfully and with full strength. They marveled at the fact that everyone has a percussion instrument in the human body. I look forward to connecting with students again via email and social media, and to learn more about the culture here in China. Thank you for this opportunity!
—Andre Rosa-Artis, master drummer and teacher
Firstly, it was interesting to observe the inversion of student experiences. Earlier we were in a class taught in English translated into Chinese, then inverted to a Chinese class translated into English.
We began the class by discussing the dance history and its origins. As we sat on the ground, we were introduced to the hand posture. I found that this particular dance was very detailed, delicate, precise, and deeply rooted in the dancers breathing pattern. The feminine hand was gentle and resembled the orchid flower. At some point of the workshop she described the female hand position as being delicate enough to hold an egg. Contrary, the male hand position was strong and stiff. The fingers are hyper extended and the thumb separated.
Each movement phrase is dictated by the breath. Inhales and exhales initiate the movements and are pretty much choreographed into the pieces. The hardest part was the gap in verbal communication. It was difficult to tell where a new choreography was appended or whether she was explaining something else. In the end, it was a great experience, and we have new movements to add to our movement vocabulary.
—Kelvin, M.F.A., Photography