HARRISON, N.Y. -- The students of the Harrison High School dance program took part in an African dance workshop conducted by Vado Diomande of the Kotchegna Dance Company of New York City.
More than 70 students participated in this unique learning opportunity with abilities ranging from Dance Year 1 to the International Baccalaureate (IB) students. “The experience was so different than what I was used to, but I really felt that I could let loose and have fun with it,” said senior IB Dance student Dominque Loguidice. “It really made me develop an appreciation for the African culture. It was such a great experience.” IB students were asked to write their observations by organizing their thinking as it related to level (working in plie), force vs. flow (as the movement gets more intense with kicking and stomping), and body parts specific to the movement (release of the torso). “Other districts with IB Dance Programs require students to go on their own to find workshops or classes that focus on unfamiliar dance forms,” said dance teacher Debbie Toteda. “Providing students with access “on their own turf” allows all students to benefit from a master class, ensures that the entire experience is an authentic IB dance source, and provides the teacher with the opportunity to monitor students’ progress.” Vado, who was born in Ivory Coast, Africa, began dancing traditional West African dances at the age of four and became a principal ballet dancer at the Ballet National de Cote d’Ivoir, where he remained for 15 years. He founded the Kotchegna Dance Company in New York City in 1994, where he has become an established teacher of West African Dance and Drum by travelling throughout the United States and the world.
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