Monday, September 5, 2011

"Andre! You are very intelligent!"

That was what my dance instructor, Lassy, exclaimed. He meant that I pick up new material quickly.

(Photo credit: Eric Helgoth)

I can understand his excitement. It is always a pleasure to work with a focused student that takes your dance seriously. And that’s what I do with African dance. I ask him to dance it fully, to not dumb it down, to not present the “American version” as we call it. “Malian. Give me Malian,” I say. This makes him tremendously happy, because he can teach the dance the way he loves the dance: full of energy.

There are definitely moments I wish to settle for just the American version. African dance is hella intense; constant footwork, jumps, and quick upper body movements. It almost (almost) feels like Insanity, except that it lasts two hours.

(Photo credit: Eric Helgoth)

The day after my first lesson, my shoulders were so sore I could barely turn my head – and that was even with extensive stretching, plenty of water, and a few bananas.

(Photo credit: Eric Helgoth)

It's not as obvious in this low-resolution image, but you can see the grimace of effort on my face and my shirt turned translucent by sweat. By the end of a session, my shorts are saturated -- dripping. I can actually wring them out. It's... kinda gross.

As luck would have it, one of the fellows staying at the hostel is a photographer. He jumped on the opportunity to take dance shots of a white guy learning African dance – and doing it pretty well. I'm thrilled to have semi-professional photos of me learning the dance.

(P.S. Apologies for the lack of posts recently. I did not have much opportunity for computer work while in Congo -- there was no electricity at the house, and trips to the cyber cafe typically only lasted an hour. I'm playing catch-up now.)

For more photos, visit here.


Debs said...

Lovely! You're obviously doing it really well; your form is just like his.

A delightful glimpse of your travels. :)

AJ said...

This looks like you are having a blast, even though it is rough on the body. Thanks for updating. It's great to be able to follow along.

gretchen de mochi said...

Strong work, Andrew Smith!

Nuzrat Gyamah-Poku said...

more jumping for you out there. hope it's not difficult for you. enjoy yourself

Ben said...


eric said...

I should send you some better photos! The exposure on these is a bit dark, you can't see Lassy's face very well.