September 21, 2016

West African Dance Class

On Septmeber 21st, 2016 I attended a master class taught by Ayinde Hurrey. This class was based in West African dance and exaggerated the importance of drumming and rhythm in both African culture and dance as a whole.

Ayinde offered a master class that was open to the public of OU but ended up consisting of mostly modern majors. Ayinde began the class in a circle, having us introduce ourselves so that we could feel connected as a community. After this introduction, Ayinde introduced us to a few of the instruments and classical West African rhythms. We practiced these rhythms as Ayindes wife accompanied us on the drums.

Once we were familiar with the rhythms we learned some basic sequences. Ayinde explained that West African dance is based in a celebratory, communal setting. He explained the importance of having an awareness of those around, staying in time and in formation with those in the class.

This high energy class opened my  eyes to the basics of West African dancing, drumming, rhythms and culture. Ayinde’s high energy class left everyone refreshed and happy. By the end of the night I understood why this kind of movement was used as a communal celebration, and how dance could be used to unite many different people.

October 28, 2016

Diversity Event Performance

On October 28,2016 the modern dance department attended a diversity event sponsored by the Engineering college. Dance groups from around the University performed on an outside stage at this event.

Our piece, choreographed by our dance professors was based on the experiences of women in oppressed countries. My professor found her inspiration in news articles, books and personal reflections of women who have found strength even in the most horrific circumstances. Another piece the dance department presented was a reflection of the recent events in our culture in America. This piece featured three of our African American male dancers, the intention of the piece was to portray the hardships and discrimination that minorities may face in American society.

After we performed we watched the rest of the show, seeing pieces from different groups on campus.  The piece that struck me the most was an Indian cultural dance. The wardrobe was absolutely exquisite, incredibly detailed and colorful. The movement of these dancers was  upbeat and happy, there was a communal aspect to the choreography. The dance was a introduced as a traditional worship piece, based on the worship practices of Indian. This dance was full of joy and community, and a beautiful way for me to find a connection to the Indian culture.

November 22, 2016

Immigration Events Discussion

On November 22nd, 2016 I attended and immigration events discussion in Meacham Auditorium inside the Union. This event featured an informal discussion between three professional panelists and students in the audience. Many students were concerned about the future of immigrations policies and laws and how changes in these issues might affect their lives.

I did not understand a lot of the technicalities in the questions, students were concerned about “I-20s” and other forms. Although I could not follow every details in each question I was able to follow the discussion and appreciate the concerns of those around me.

Most of the audience was filled with fear and concern after the recent election results. Students asked if they would be able to continue their studies in America, or how the change in presidency would effect how they could find jobs after their education at the University. The panel did their best to answer the technicalities in each question and continued to encourage the audience members to express their concerns in this safe place.

The staff and panel at this discussion ensured the students that the university would do its best to resist any changes that would affect the students negatively. A former legislator was present and he explained that if changes were coming, they would not happen immediately. He explained that the legislative process is long and difficult for a reason, many people are involved to ensure that the laws in America remain fair and just for all.

After this discussion, I headed home for thanksgiving break and I couldn’t help but reflect on all the students who were scared that, under the new president’s policies, if they went home they might not be able to return to America to finish their studies. This event opened my eyes to how other countries and individual from other countries perceived this change in American government.

December 2nd, 2016

Arabic Talent Show

On December  2nd, 2016 I attended the Arabic Talent show in the Thurman J White Forum building at 630pm. The night began  with a buffet of delicious food and friendly chatter. I was a little nervous about attending this event because I was going by myself and was not sure I would know anyone there. I found a few friendly girls and sat at a round table with them.

The show began with a Khaleeji folk dance. The costumes were colorful and the movement was exciting. The crowd was very involved, clapping to the music and cheering for the dancers. I am not very familiar with Arabic culture but as a dance major I am quite familiar with dance so this was a nice opening piece for me. Dance allowed me to find a connection into a piece of the Arabic culture.

Throughout the show, there were many videos, songs, poems and stories about Arabic culture. It was sometimes difficult to follow the few pieces that were not followed by an English translation or accompanied by English subtitles. Even though I could not understand every word, I was amazed by the beauty of the language, especially during the poem presentations. I learned about the courtesies and hospitality of Arabic culture in the “Arab Hospitality” and the “milk and milk” video.

My favorite pieces from this show were the dance performances and the final drum duet. The dances pieces allowed me to connect to the Arabic culture in a personal way. The drum piece was exciting and engaging, the entire room seemed to ignite during this final piece, the energy around the audience was inspiring.