U of T’s first Afro-Caribbean dance workshop: 10/10 would go again and again

This past Monday, Move U and U of T’s Black Students’ Association hosted the university’s first Afro-Caribbean dance workshop. It was one of many highlights of my four years at U of T. Seriously. A moving image generated from a clip from the workshop which shows everyone dancing hand in hand.   The hour-and-a-half long workshop was a total blast! It was led by Arsenio Andrade, who was born and trained in Cuba and has performed internationally, and accompanied by the wonderful drumming talent of Richard “Popcorn” Cumberbatch who has been playing Caribbean indigenous drums since the age of 11. There was a great turnout and every single person seemed to be having the time of their lives – I know I was. We were taught a wide variety of steps and combos over the course of the workshop and I think we did really well. I’ll admit there was one step I really had to take some time to wrap my head around but once I figured it out, it was so, so much fun! I’m now even more excited to be returning to U of T next year, as this workshop reminded me just how much I love this community, its energy and all the fantastic initiatives to which it gives life on a daily basis. Besides being overwhelmingly awesome, the workshop proved to be an amazing workout! I was exhausted at the end, and I think our facilitator could see it in us all since we finished our last dance with a much-needed rest on the floor of the Athletic Centre dance studio. Participants in the workshop are seen lying on the floor exhausted. The workshop was a perfect de-stressor after a Monday that did not go quite my way. It took me some time but I learned to let go, feel silly and shake it all out without concern for whether I was about to be cast for So You Think You Can Dance. I was recently in Cuba and really loved watching the dancers, which is largely what inspired me to sign up for the workshop. The picture of Afro-Caribbean dance I had in my mind was one of joy, passion and freedom and I was excited to be able to share in some of the fun with my friends and my peers. The music was also a ton of fun, as I walked home to my apartment after the event I was perfectly happy to have it stuck in my head and realized our drummer deserved major props for giving us intricate beats for a whole 90 minutes. Annette and a friend are shown holding hands in a circle and dancing at the workshop. If I can get in touch with our facilitators, I’m hoping to find a way to bring them back for a campus club event sometime. I can’t be one of only a few in my friend group to have had this incredible cultural experience. Congratulations and thank you to the MoveU and Black Students’ Association teams for putting on a spectacular event, I sincerely hope we’ll see more like this in the future!

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