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Iwa L’ewa Heritage Dance Ensemble Turns College Hour Into A Party

March 5, 2012 by admin

By Anna Neledva
      A typical lunch time at the Brookdale campus turned into a cultural experience on Feb. 28. students had 15 minutes to enjoy a free lunch before a performance of the Iwa L’ewa heritage Dance Ensemble started with an energetic African drum beat.     As the room filled with music, everybody put their cups of soups away and started dancing in their chairs echoing a rhythmic up-beat of the African music.     “We are trying to invite the spirits of ancestors with a “drum call” at the beginning of everyperformance. It means that a big ceremony is ready to happen. Sounds of earth and rhythm from Africa invite ancestors to come and to approve,” said Jana Burton, 31-year-old ensemble drummer from Newark.     The first part of the performance, which was representing “ballafon music” cheered up theaudience all the way to the end. Nobody cared about food anymore.     “We come for dancing and free food, “said Tiffany Voss, a 30-year-old pre-nursing major from Manasquan before the performance took place.Faces were lighted up with the smiles, heads were nodding, feet were tapping, and hands were clapping. A couple of people started videotaping as the dancers in pink and yellow national costumes were performing a rhythmic African dance. One guy couldn’t wait and jumped on a chair and started dancing. Everybody from the audience was invited on a dance floor. There were not a lot who said no.     “I wanted to dance today. I hoped they would invite us on a floor today and they actually did. It was amazing. Makes me want to go to Africa,” said Kelly Shamm a 20-year-old business administration major from Atlantic Highlands.     The African-American cultural experience was shared with all segments of Brookdale, from students and staff to younger children from the Child Care Center. The third of the room was occupied with the smaller generation from kindergarten who became active participants in a dance afterward.     “We are from the Children Learning Center, and today we are here to celebrate a Black history month. It is excellent to celebrate everyone’s culture. Kids are excited to be here,” said Jule Murphy, a 41-year-old child development specialist from East Brunswick.     There were about 20 people who mingled with the dancers and performed an African dance workshop together with the African choreographers, 7 of them were kindergarteners.     “I have done a little bit of African dancing; it’s interesting to be here,“ said Alexandra Burbello, a 26-year-old pre-nursing major from Freehold.     “It’s hard to keep culture, to keep traditions of our ancestors alive. Today we are trying to do a representation what was played by nine centuries ago, “said Victor Marshall a lead musician and a musical director of the Lewa Ensemble.     “I love school spirit and it’s interesting to be involved in such things and learn about new cultures,” said Samanta Goldberg, a 19-year-old psychology major from Marlboro.     “We try to celebrate cultural diversity every month. This month is African-American history month that’s why we have Iwa L’ewa Ensemble here,” said Robert F.Quinones Student Life and Activities Director.     The group has performed recently at the PNC Arts Centers African American Heritage Festival, the Rutgers Newark Robeson Center and the ocean County Library.

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