Dancer shares her experiences as an African dancer with NOMMO Dance Company
Every seat was filled at the NOMMO Dance Company’s fall 2012 showcase that was held in Alumni Hall in the HUB-Robeson center at Penn State.
Junior and senior dance companies showcased dances they worked on, tweaking and perfecting for the entire fall semester. Both dancers and audience members had fun celebrating love and unifying the Penn State community.
Company dancers performed a selection of fast paced traditional African dances as the drummers stood alongside the stage pounding wooden drums. Many different dances were performed representing different regions and tribes in Africa.
The junior dance company performed a Mendiani piece that in earlier roots was a dance that symbolized purity, but now is a dance that is done at many community celebrations. The senior dance company danced to a more mature piece in the Sente style of dance which demonstrates a female’s rite of passage and is also used to welcome new women in the community that are ready for marriage.
During a brief intermission, both American and Indian styles of dance were incorporated and welcomed to the “Bantaba” (gathering). The RAM squad members all shared the stage and freestyle danced to different hip hop music songs both new and old, while the ASA dance team performed an Indian hip hop dance number.
Just when the audience thought the show was over, the dancers all ran to the back of the room and encouraged audience members to join in the bantaba. Members of NOMMO incorporated audience members into a dance circle and the drummers joined along providing the music for the big celebration.
Although the event is over, the NOMMO dance company continues to practice three days a week in preparation of their next showcase or performance. Practice isn’t only a place where the members come to work on their next performance, but it is a place where they all come together as one, which has helped create the close knit bond they have today.
Leading by Drumming
Tahira West, is the president of Penn State's African dance company NOMMO. West started off as a dancer for the dance company but after trying out the drums decided that this is what she wanted to do. She enjoys leading not only the drummers but the dancers with the call and response technique that is commonly used in African dance and drumming.