A highlight of The Waldorf School of Garden City annual Thanksgiving Assembly is the senior performance of an African Dance as the culmination of their comprehensive History Main Lesson Block, where Grade 12 uncovers the history of Africa and its peoples. On Wednesday, November 24th, the class of 2022 did not disappoint.
High School History teacher Emmie Yaeger explained, “The class of 2022 performed two dances this year, the Lamban and the DunDun dance. Both come from Guinea in West Africa. The Lamban dance was a dance performed by the griots, the story tellers in African communities. The steps come from the founder of the Mali Empire, Sunjata Keita, also known as the Lion King, and have been passed down from generation to generation in griot families. Dundun dances were made popular in Guinea and have become very popular amongst women in Guinea West African dance companies.”
A tradition at the School since 2010, the dance is the culmination of this history course, allowing the seniors to experience firsthand an aspect of the cultures they have been studying for the last month.
Throughout the block, students learn about African History and the role of Africa in the world today. Special emphasis is placed on the various cultures that arose on the continent, from ancient times, through the colonial period and up to the present. Past dances have included, Gum Boot, a dance originating from miners using the sounds of their boots as a form of communication, as well as more traditional African dances that reflect the different musical and movement styles of their country of origin. Through understanding and subsequent performance of an authentic dance, students gain a greater appreciation for the contributions and struggles of the African people as each dance reflects aspects of the culture and time period in which it was created.
See the full performance in the video below. A special thank you to Anayo Michelle, owner of Layla’s Dance & Drum for her expertise and enthusiasm in teaching the seniors the dance during this Main Lesson block.