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Find your rhythm

Is your groove missing? If you answered yes to that question it's probably a good idea to check out the new African dances classes available at the North Peace Cultural Centre in the new year.

Is your groove missing? If you answered yes to that question it's probably a good idea to check out the new African dances classes available at the North Peace Cultural Centre in the new year.

The classes are part of the ArtSpace program, run through the centre, which tries to encourage the city's creative minds.

Kufre Edem Silas, who instructs the classes, was a stage performer for five years in Malaysia before coming to Fort St. John three years ago.

Born in West Africa, Silas said at the event that your body functions in much the same way as your brain.

"Scientists say that the average person usually only uses a fraction of their brain, well the same is true of the body,' said Silas.

He teaches a variety of dances ranging from Uta, Ekambi, Country dances and the Bantu two-step.

"I want to foster African art in this community and help those who want to get to know African arts and dance," said Silas

Although dance is an important aspect of every culture, Silas said that African dance is imbued with a sense of history in ways that other dance traditions are not.

He referred to the Kombi dance, which tells the history of a water deity embodied by a snake who lived in water.

The deity represented fertility and abundance, so local people would pay their respects to the creature in order to ensure abundant harvests, fisheries and families.

To perform the dance people move like snakes in undulating movements.

Silas said that African dance is unique because of its relationship to percussion rather than melody. In addition he said that it is not as focused on technique as European dance tradition.

The biggest challenge for people who want to learn African dance is mindset, said Silas.

He said that people are apprehensive about even embracing simple Hip Hop dance.

Those who attended the free workshop and introduction to the coming classes were sweating well before they had been dancing for an hour.

"It has been very different from what I have ever done, and I've done all the other stuff, just never African dance - that man's got some moves," said Rachel Jensen

In order to properly execute many of the moves, dancers must retain tense and steady cores. In addition to flexing core muscles, Africa dance requires rapid foot movement that can sometime require dancers to squat quite close to the floor.

"All of your muscles are used in African dance and it is not in a strenuous way because your are stretching them as you build them," said Silas.

Anyone interested in taking the classes, or in any other of ArtsSpace's initiatives can get involved by contacting the North Peace Cultural Centre.