Skip to Main Site Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Footer
Back To Top

Published on November 05, 2019

Eastern’s WUMALA Club Performs at 5x5 Dance Festival

Photo by Ray Shaw

Photo by Ray Shaw

Photo by Ray Shaw

Eastern Connecticut State University’s “WUMALA” dance club performed at the University of Saint Joseph’s 5x5 Dance Festival on Nov. 2. The dance festival was created to provide a space for choreographers, performers, educators and students to study and perform. Each year the festival highlights performances by five professional and five collegiate ensembles.

This is the fifth year that Eastern Professor Alycia Bright-Holland has brought students to perform at the 5x5 Dance Festival, but this year’s performance was different from previous years. In prior years, students from Eastern’s dance and world performance theatre concentration participated; this year’s performers were invited from Bright-Holland’s West African Dance Class. Students from a variety of majors, including psychology, biology and education, performed at the Dance Festival as part of Bright-Holland’s WUMALA dance group.

WUMALA is a semi-professional dance group founded in 2012 by Bright-Holland. She was inspired by a group of Eastern students who loved their West African Dance class, so much that they decided to create a dance group to share what they had learned in class with others. WUMALA is composed of Eastern students of all majors, backgrounds and skill levels. Its name was given to the group by master drummer M'Bemba Bangoura, and means “all together”, which represents what WUMALA is about.

“Highlighting WUMALA is exciting for me,” said Bright-Holland. “It’s a company I started at Eastern about six year ago, and every year the membership changes. It is just great to see it evolve, as well as to see the cacophony of aesthetics coming together.”

At the 5x5 showcase WUMALA performed a piece titled “Anikulapo Soul,” choreographed by Bright-Holland in collaboration with Eastern student dancers. The students had been practicing and perfecting the piece since the beginning of September. It was inspired by Fela Anikulapo Kuti, a Nigerian human rights activist, musician, composer and pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre. A montage of Kuti’s performances through the years was projected in the background as the dancers performed.

Ishah Azeez, a theatre major who has been a part of WUMALA for three years commented on her experience at the festival. “It was a lot of fun! I felt like I gained so much confidence and I got to dance my heart out. It was a great experience.”

Prior to their performance students also got the chance to participate in two master classes at the dance festival. One of the classes was a technique master class led by Alberto Del Saz, the director of the Nikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance. The second, a contemporary fusion master class, was led by dancer Rosanna Karabetsos.

Written by Vania Galicia