Student Stories: AfroBeat with Sylvana Christopher

By Doienne Saab

Doienne SaabIn search of a class that offered a new style of dance, fun and total body workout, I was thrilled to discover Joy of Motion Dance Center’s AfroBeat class.

The class is led by the energetic, funky and eclectic Sylvana Christopher. Dancers were immediately drawn to the class by the sounds of AfroBeat—a mix of percussion, funk, jazz and house that filled the room. Under Sylvana’s direction, I felt like I was being taken on a cultural journey overseas through high-energy, rhythmic movements of the body.

Sylvana taught routines based on the choreography of the Broadway hit FELA!, a play based on the life of musician Fela Kuti. With each routine, Sylvana provided the historical background of each dance. She educated the class on the origins of “AfroBeat” from founder Fela Kuti, who inspired the style and made it a call for political and social change in his native Nigeria. Learning about the background of AfroBeat helped me better execute each move. By the end of class, I felt liberated in being able to carry out the powerful message of human justice that Fela and his music intended.

I am grateful for finding Joy of Motion Dance Center and AfroBeat—it is truly a one of a kind class. This class is perfect for beginners and seasoned dancers alike who are looking for something that combines fitness with dancing. Who wouldn’t want to leave a class that made you feel like you left a party rather than a workout? I guarantee that you will not be disappointed in the awesome experience JOMDC’s AfroBeat class will give you!

Want to try AfroBeat? Join Sylvana Christopher for a special AfroBeat workshop – Saturday, April 20, 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. at JOMDC Atlas (1333 H Street NE) or join her for her weekly AfroBeat class – Fridays, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. at JOMDC Bethesda (7315 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 180E).