Culture and Celebration

Lily decided she was ready to perform for the first time this year which was a huge deal for her. Piano, modern dance recital and Rootead community show. But by far her experience with Rootead changed her life. She is not in these pictures but you can see the level of mastery, passion and pure gut that is evident. Even though Kama and I have been connected for many years, her foundation Rootead is our new soul home. Lily just started taking classes a few weeks ago and is deep in it. To see all different body types and races dancing together and all with such skill gave her hope that she too can be a dancer. It imbued her with self confidence and self love. She has found what lights her up and drives her! I am grateful that it is with these women, this particular genre of dance and this organization. It touches a deep part of me. African Dance is a huge part of my life. Dancing with renowned teachers in LA during my Masters at UCLA, the drums reverberating through the dance theatre space. I went into labor several hours after my last class. The community that Rootead has created reminds me of growing up in Chicago and spending our weekends at clubs, community centers, bars as my father performed with his African Jazz Group. I felt like I was home again this weekend. When the girls started singing as they came onto stage my heart exploded and my fathers voice echoed with them. The level of mastery that Kama, Heather and Dasan have as community builders, dance instructors and all around lovejoy makers is like nothing I have ever seen before! Dasan and his vision of choreography was brilliant. Every movement had intention and meaning and passion, and I felt it. The way he folds African and Modern dance into brilliant and masterful choreography is beyond refreshing to witness. As transplants to Kalamazoo it sometimes feels like another planet for me and my daughter. This is the first time Lily and I have felt a part of something in this town. With hundreds of people in the room, no one turned their backs on us, everyone gave hugs and love. EVERYONE! Of all colors, cultures and statuses. Even the older girls (the professional youth dancers) were right there with the younger girls, interacting, loving on them, sharing circle with them. Lily's eyes lit up as she effusively shared how nice the older dancers were. How much they liked her and connected with her and complimented her. That is so important for a 12 year old. Rooted model is community first, everything else second. And it shows!!! Their dancers are taught to be empowered and loving first and dancers second. That is the African Dance Model! And that is a testament to those two women and how powerful they are at bridging the gap in our separated cultural microcosm that is this town. And all my proud mama moments for Dasan Mitchell even though I'm not his mama. Deep Deep bow to all of them...

Written by: Rebecca Hahn