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Dance for diversity
Modern African classes by maritime dance organization coming to Yk

Robin Grant
Northern News Services
Friday, March 17, 2017

African dance instructor Mufaro Chakabuda says people don't know the whole story when it comes to Africa.

She said people don't tend to think of the continent as a diverse place with diverse cultures and positive things happening.

"Did you know that Ethiopia is building the largest airport in the world?" she asked. "They won't show you this on TV. We are doing things. We are doing things guys for real."

The founder and CEO of Maritime Centre for African Dance (MCAD) was in Yellowknife on Saturday teaching a dance workshop - but also educating people about Africa.

"Our goal is to use arts as a way to facilitate discussion around culture and cultural education, specifically in Africa," she told Yellowknifer. "Our goal whenever you do our workshop is to leave our class with a realistic picture of what Africa is."

Chakabuda established MCAD in 2005. Since then, the organization has taught over 600,000 people across Canada through camps, classes, workshops, performances and educational material. In 2009, its members performed at former U.S. president Barack Obama's first inaugural ball in Washington.

Neomi Jayaratne has travelled to many countries in Africa and said she jumped at the opportunity to learn some dance moves in Yellowknife.

"I love to dance, so any opportunity if I can learn a kind of dance, I will," she said.

"It's just a nice thing to do on the weekend, and it makes you feel good, and you're just enjoying yourself and moving."

Michelle Peters moved to Yellowknife from South Africa in 2013 and said the class was a taste of home.

"It was more than I expected," she said. "I thought it would be more of an exploration; I didn't know it would be so interactive - I enjoyed it."

As for Chakabuda, she's happy people are coming out.

"It warms my heart and makes me so happy to see individuals coming out to see what African culture is about and just to experience something different," she said.

Modern African dance classes taught by MCAD are scheduled to begin in the city at the end of March.

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