Let’s dance!

Island students face off in an East African dance battle. 

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The Yard and visiting artist Godfrey Muwuyla have been working with fourth grade students at the Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, West Tisbury, and Chilmark (fourth and fifth grade) schools to teach them dances from East Africa, specifically Uganda. According to a press release, each classroom trained with Muwulya on a dance from a different region of Uganda, learning the choreography, purpose of the piece, and facts surrounding the people of the region. 

The residency with Muwuyla culminated last Thursday, Oct. 10, at the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury with an East African Dance Battle that brought the participating schools and families under one roof to share their dances and compete for the title of East African Dance Honoree. Muwulya opened the show with an energizing solo, and the four schools presented their pieces with cheers from the crowd. West Tisbury School won the trophy.

This project was supported by the Yard and its creative dance initiative, Making It, which is directed by Jesse Keller Jason, the Yard’s director of Island Programs and Education. Making It is the Yard’s dancemaking curriculum and creativity initiative, with programs for all ages in various locations across Martha’s Vineyard. Making It is a model that uses dance as an outlet to spark creativity, foster critical thinking, build collaborations, and create community, the release states. Muwulya has been working closely with Making It since 2012, and is an artist well known to the community through programs at the Yard, Sense of Wonder Creations, and Pathways Arts.