Four Week Series Focuses on Movement Through West African Dance


*Editor’s Note: Shamama announced the four-week African dance series has been canceled due to participation. The organization hopes to reschedule in the future.

Michelle Lusky still remembers when she first encountered African drumming. “I went to Djembe Spectacular at Creston Brewery and there were all of these people playing djembe—which was amazing—but when Heather Mitchell and Kama Mitchell came out dancing and singing, I was blown away,” she said.

“I am 48 years old and overweight, but I had to get out on that dance floor and try it. I couldn’t stop moving. I knew that I had to invite them up to Rockford to share their gifts.”

Lusky’s company, Shamama, will host a four-week exploration of traditional West African dance during March, hosted by Heather and Kama Mitchell. Heather Mitchell has been an African Diaspora Dance performing artist and choreographer in the Kalamazoo community for over 12 years and Kama Mitchell is the co-founder of the nonprofit Rootead in Kalamazoo, which is dedicated to providing “birthing justice and body awareness” to women of color.

Shamama hosts a four-week series in West African dance.
Shamama hosts a four-week series in West African dance.

Leah Ivory, an expert in djembe, which is a type of drum that originates in West Africa, will also perform at several sessions. Lusky said Shamama invited Ivory to teach djembe drumming last spring and 30 people attended.

“There is something deep and knowing about the West African rhythms when we hear them, when we drum them, when we dance to them,” said Lusky. “I can’t really explain it, but it touches my soul. And the dancing is perfection; it is graceful and powerful and beautiful.”

According to its website, Shamama is “a group of experts dedicated to helping you tap into your creativity, unleash your power, find your purpose, and express your voice—through special events, workshops, retreats, coaching, and consulting.”

Join Shamama on Fridays in March from 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at OMG!Yoga, at 251 Northland Dr. NE. The series costs $96 for all four nights (drop-in $30/class). Register at Shamama.

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