AASC hosts an African dance class

By Sherrie Williams, Apr. 12, 2022

The African American Student Center presented an African dance class on April 5 that offered lessons in many different kinds of dance taught by Zaria Lasley-Shabete. She used her extensive knowledge of dance to teach the attendees a wide variety of dance genres.

The event was a way to learn about the many different styles of dance, from hip-hop to jazz. It was also a way to develop a stronger sense of community with members of the Cal Poly Pomona community. T’Naya Hall, AASC social justice leader and gender ethnicity and multicultural studies student, shared her thoughts on the class.

“The class was so much fun. The instructor was amazing, and it was great to see her in her element,” said Hall. “I would definitely take the class again.”

Lasley-Shabete had a prior dance background starting from the early age of 3 as well as having experience as an instructor.  She practiced ballet, hip-hop, contemporary, jazz, lyrical, acro and did competitive dance in high school, as well as having taught for two years on and off and with that experience, while still learning more about how she can improve herself and her students.

“I have taught several classes before, but usually for kids and teenagers,” said Lasley-Shabete. “From those classes, I learned to just have fun and make students comfortable in the space so they can do their best.”

She shared that she wanted to explore other genres of dance to learn for herself and teach for the AASC event.

Sherrie Williams | The Poly Post

According to this article, African dance is a ceremonial dance that “tells a story and conveys history, conveys emotion, celebrates rites of passage, and helps to unify communities.”

Shaela Young, early childhood studies student, was there to show support for the AASC dance class. She described how Lasley-Shabete is big on campus for the African American community.

“It was really nice to see her teach people who are new to campus, and this was kind of the first no-mask event; it was nice and wholesome,” said Young.

Students at the class had fun expressing themselves, having fun with new and old friends and meeting the AASC staff. They were introduced to a different genre of dance but were not afraid to try it out and make it their own.

“We have a lot (of events), but I do want to encourage Black students to come and visit us,” added Young. “I know it is hectic times and you feel you don’t have community on this campus, but you actually do.”

To learn more about events held by the African American Student Center, the campus community can visit myBAR to RSVP for events or check out the center as well.

Feature image by Sherrie Williams. 

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