The timeless tradition of African dance
is thriving in Washington, DC. 5 years ago, an African-American
dancer, Marcellus Reynolds, began offering classes in West African dance
at the Marcellus Dance Studio. His
students include adults and children as young as 3.
"African dance took
an explosion here in America, I remember when I was dancing earlier on, it did
not have the presence that it has now," Reynolds says.
students are enthusiastic about West African dance, he says, even though the
dancer says he offers an "Americanized" version, taught by Americans. "We have
a need for rhythm. Rhythm starts with
the African beat, with the drum," he says.
Reynold's students recently displayed their
mastery of African rhythms to the delight of an audience of 1,500 people at a
community college outside of Washington, DC. The occasion marked the 10th anniversary of his dance
Reynolds and his students take part in the
week-long "DanceAfrica," which is held every year in May. DanceAfrica was founded by African-American
performing arts legend Chuck Davis.
"Dance Africa" features American and international artists who come
together to celebrate the culture and traditions of Africa.
Marcellus Reynolds taught in
the public school system for 18 years.
Today he uses his experience to teach his African-American students more
about African culture. "Through African
dance you tell a story, through the music, through the movement. It's a wonderful journey, very versatile. Even if it's just celebrating a new life or
the passing away of an old life, it's a wonderful journey," he says.
Owning a dance studio has
helped him become an entrepreneur who can express his artistic vision without
being subjected to external influences, says Reynolds. He and his dance studio have received a
number of awards, including the "Best Dance Studio" award by the
Washington Business Guide Magazine.
Although Reynolds says he wishes he had started
the studio earlier, he plans to make up for lost time by sharing the art of
dance with everyone, even those who cannot afford to take classes.
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