The Edge of Dance
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|Ricci Shryock||June 4th 2012|
The AfroMob flash mob broke into dance in a Washington, DC suburb, and for five minutes hundreds of surprised passers-by gathered to watch the performers entertain with Ndombolo, Coupe Decale, Azonto and hip-hop moves. The five-minute dance eventually turned into a four-hour long block party, said AfroMob co-founder, Andong Nkobena, as spectators started interacting with the dancers and trying to learn some of the contemporary dances.
“It was amazing," she said. "I was in shock, because I did not think it would have such an impact on people. We brought everyone together through dance.” A flash mob is a group of people who gather in a public place and suddenly break into dance or song for a brief performance. One AfroMob organizer, Lorraine Beraho, said she thinks African music is well-suited to the genre: “The beats are very engaging, very catchy, so people from all over get drawn to the music,” she said. Nkokobena added the participating dance groups were eager to put together one of the first flash mobs of African contemporary dance in the U.S.
“So many people know of the traditional dances in Africa, and I don’t think they’ve seen the contemporary side yet,” she said. “I wanted this to be out there, so the world at large could see that Africa doesn’t offer traditional dances only, contemporary dance as well.” The Ndombolo dance moves are from Democratic Republic of Congo and are known for their fast-paced hip swinging, while Coupe Decale originated in Ivory Coast and also draws from the same Congolese rhythms as Ndombolo. Azonto is the newest dance style of the three. It comes from Ghana and football player Asamoah Gyan helped raise the moves’ profile by breaking into Azonto dance during matches.
Beraho and Nkobena are members of the Belles de l’Afrique dance group, based in Washington. Other regional dance groups, including Mbuutu, Destiny of Africa, and Zuri Sana'a, also participated in the event.
Ricci Shryock writes for VOA, from where this article is adapted.