Rhythm and Good Vibes: Caribbean Dance Workshop

Sophomore Saran Duncan and Junior Natoya German, Co-Presidents of the Colgate Caribbean Students Association, hosted a Caribbean Dance Workshop as part of Caribbean Week in collaboration with Melanated Dance Group. The workshop combined multiple styles of Caribbean dance, incorporating Caribbean music and other facets of Caribbean dancehall culture.

“We [taught] a few popular dynamic movements in the Caribbean,” Duncan and German said. “Then we taught the traditional dances: Bogle, Ska, Gully Creeper, Tek Way Yuhself, Skip to my Lou, and Willy Bounce. All of these dances have songs associated with them, so we played the songs while teaching the dances and gave a brief explanation so that people could learn the background of each dance as they were learning how to do them.”

Duncan, who is also the Vice President of Melanated Dance Group, led the class with German. They began with Caribbean carnival-inspired stretching and music.

“The dance workshop started with a soca warmup session,” Duncan and German said. “Soca is a genre of music that is popular within the Caribbean; it has influences in African and East Indian rhythms and is very significant to carnivals in the Caribbean. The warmup included stretches paired with spirited movements usually done at carnivals in the Caribbean.”

All skill levels were welcome, and the space was upbeat and affirming, with participants laughing and cheering each other on as they danced. Joy pervaded every part of the event, from the rhythmic music to the relaxed instruction style.

For some, the workshop went deeper than just dancing. Sophomore Clementina Aboagye viewed the workshop as a way to connect with her culture and roots and celebrate other cultures as well.

“Today I joined [the] Caribbean Student Union to demonstrate some aspects of Caribbean culture which is dance and music, going hand-in-hand,” Aboagye said. “I’m Ghanaian, I’m from Ghana- West Africa- and I know that a lot of Caribbean culture has origins in the African continent, and being able to partake in dance and kind of reminisce about my own Ghanaian culture, my own African heritage, is really great and just being able to support people from Caribbean origins is really wonderful too.”

Sophomore Rahneke Worell also attended the workshop and appreciated the opportunity to share Caribbean culture with the campus in such a positive way.

“It’s very nice to introduce a lot of people to our culture, you know, have everybody try the Caribbean dances, it’s very fun and it’s very- something essential on campus to have, you know, representing every single culture and so everybody can have fun,” Worell said.

Aboagye emphasized the joy and positive energy she gets from dancing, and how the Caribbean Dance Workshop contributed to that.

“It’s just been really fun, being able to dance and use all parts of my body, and be in rhythm and just enjoy very good music, it’s just good vibes,” Aboagye said.

Duncan and German valued the opportunity to showcase the elements of Caribbean music and dance with their peers and the nostalgia it evoked.

“We both grew up hearing these songs played in our households, on the radio, and in our communities. So, teaching this workshop definitely brought back feelings of reminiscence. Being able to share this with our Colgate community was very special for us,” Duncan and German said.