by Jam Black, member of Afromoda Dance Theater

February is Black History Month! As we reflect and celebrate the contributions of African Americans, at Joy of Motion Dance Center, I take special pause to highlight the influence of the continent of Africa in our favorite art form, dance!

Historically, African dance has been used to celebrate special milestones in life such as birth, courtship, harvest, rites of passage, and death. Rhythms combined with free-flowing, energetic movement, bring a cultural spin to what we know as “HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training”. Combined with reverberating drums, African dance is infectious – it inspires music and movement, both past and present.

At JOMDC, we celebrate this cultural art form through a diverse number of class offerings:

ASA!, all levels

Location:JOMDC Atlas

Date/Time: Drop-in: Tues. 6:30pm – 7:30pm and Sun. 1:00pm – 2:00pm

Instructor: Bintou Kouyate

ASA! will get your hips moving! This total body conditioning program focuses on targeted aerobic training, muscle movement and core-stability to fast-paced African rhythms. This is not merely a cardio-class, be prepared to build your endurance and sweat through dance! Watch ASA! in action here.

AfroBeat, all levels

Location: JOMDC Atlas

Date/Time: Drop-in: Sat. 2:00pm – 3:00pm

Instructor: Sylvana Christopher

Afrobeat dance class includes a fusion of modern and African upbeat combinations to Nigerian music, inspired by FELA! the musical. Hypnotic, hip-shaking jazzy riffs will get your whole body moving and your mind thinking about a revolution.

Afro-Cuban Jazz, all levels

Location: JOMDC Friendship Heights

Date/Time: Drop-in: Sun. 9:30am-11:00am

Instructor: Angela Ingram

Journey through the social and sacred folkloric dance traditions, emphasizing the rich history of dance and culture of the African, Caribbean and Black American Dance, including the unique rhythms of Rumba, Salsa and Samba. Each class begins with a warm up of jazz and stretching dance techniques, along with the exercises to guide you to undulate your torso and hips. Class is designed to promote proper alignment, grace and precision of movement.

Afro-Jazz, Advanced Beginning

Location: JOMDC Friendship Heights

Date/Time: Drop-in: Mon., Wed, and Fri., 11:00am – 12:30pm

Instructor: Tyrone Murray

This class combines traditional West African dance with jazz and elements of modern dance and ballet. Tyrone uses a variety of music from African and gospel to rhythm and blues.

Horton Technique, Advanced Beginning

Location: JOMDC Atlas

Date/Time: Drop-in: Sun. 12:30pm – 2:00pm

Instructor: Dr. Elana Anderson

Horton Technique defies any limits of what the body can do and it’s the foundation of the ground-breaking work of Alvin Ailey. From fingertip articulation to elongation of the entire body in space, the Horton discipline is attentive to minute detail as well as length and freedom of space-carving movements. Whether bodies are tipping off balance, elongating horizontally or vertically, moving so slowly that a gentle stillness has stopped time itself, falling and holding just a breath from the floor, there still always exists that last extra inch for which to strive..

West African Dance

Location: JOMDC Atlas

Date/Time: Wednesdays, 7:30 – 9:00 PM

Instructor: Victor Bah

Let the drums take you away! Dynamic movements and an accelerated heart rate will whip you into shape as you learn dances from the regions of Ghana, Mali, and Senegal. In this class, dancers should expect to improve their West African technique while moving to the pulsating rhythms of live drums.

JOMDC also offers a variety of drop-in hip hop classes from the Fierce Collabo Company Class, Fridays at 9pm at Bethesda, to Derek Brown’s seriously challenging hip hop class Tuesday nights at Atlas. JOMDC partnered with local hip hop company, Fierce Collabo, to bring the DNA Workshop Series – a monthly workshop with professional hip hop dancers who are on tour, living the dream, and want to bring hardcore technique and choreography to the DMV.

We hope that you will join us in this celebration and try a new class this week. Sign up, today!
Jam Black is the Assistant Artistic Director with Afromoda Dance Theatre and has been performing with them since 2011. Her love for West African Dance began in her home town of Tallahassee, Florida where she first danced with the African Caribbean Dance Theater. she has been following the drum ever since. Jam lives in D.C. with her Yorkie, Dolce.