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African students lead African Dance & Rhythm night at Eclectic Soul Studio. The studio is a space for dance, yoga, & sound.

Students express African culture through dance

Dancing is a way to ease and relieve stress, but African dancing is about putting more effort and energy into the dance, as students who participated in African Dance and Rhythm Monday. Aug. 27, experienced. The African Dance and Rhythm took place at Eclectic Soul Studio in downtown Pittsburg, led by Lastacia Ross 

“We just wanting to bring art and empowering people in creativity and Artistic endeavors and just to get people in the move,” Ross said. “Dance is healing for the soul and we are all about healing and wellness.” 

Ross said that the primary focus is to have a positive impact and have fun through practicing all types of dances. She also teaches belly dancing, yoga, and drumming classes. 

“In the class we guide you and we show you how to do the movement,” she said. “We’re definitely not sticklers about you have to do this right because everybody has their own style of movement and that’s OK.”  

Ross said when they heard about the African students who love dance from their home country she took interest and cooperated with members of the African Student Association (ASA) to organize freestyle African dance classes every Monday.   

“It’s all about the movement and connecting to your body through dance,” said Tammy Kolacny, dance instructor and studio co-owner. “… Other classes that we have the yoga the sunbath, all of the dance classes is eclectic connecting to your own body and to yourself.” 

Kolacny said she fell in love with the African dance because it’s focuses on free and new dance techniques. This led her to work with Ross in putting together the weekly African dance class. 

“The mission is all about connectedness and community and having a that space where you feel so welcomed here,” Kolacny said. “… We are kind of connected to the first word named ‘eclectic,’ so the whole idea is just to kind of have representation of multiple types of spirituality.” 

Rigo Brou, PSU graduate and dance instructor for the Monday African dance class, said that dancing is something his country is known for, describing it as a tradition in their culture as Africans. 

“Every Monday me and Thierry to be the instructors and we also called our friend Peter to join us, so it was Tammy’s idea,” Brou said. “Pretty much everything, we mix a little bit east African dance and we try to make it easy for people and sometimes we create our own dancing style. … Most of the transition of every move and this is some kind of Zumba and sometimes while we do we make our repetition and so that it looks like Zumba dance so where people can learn easily.” 

Brou compared the African dance to that of a typical American sport, saying it works out the body just as much. 

“Zumba is basically a dance that with no stop … it’s kind of a cardio you dance and do, you exert an effort like cardio,” he said. “I would say Zumba is pretty much like doing a sport, you’re doing sport while you are dancing.”  

Thierry Barro, senior in construction engineering technology, said he enjoys the African dance and seeing those who participate. 

“African dancing to me is a way for me to express myself just like I do on the rugby pitch,” Barro said. “I participate in teaching it because I love music and dancing. We usually dance to various styles of African modern and traditional dances. The fact that we have different nationalities joining us, it adds lots of flavor to the dances as they add their little touch to the moves.” 

Peter Nyachira, graduate student in the MBA program, said he wants to promote his culture, as dancing is a big deal in Kenya. 

“I’m African and if I have an opportunity to share my culture, which includes dancing, I will joy pass it,” Nyachira said. “Eclectic Studio provides the space and the opportunity to do that and I joined solely for that reason.” 

Nyachira said dancing is a way to express himself and feel the freedom of doing something with the body, describing it as an enjoyable and fulfilling feeling. 

“We do modern African routines, with this generation and the beats with the current Africa pop it’s more of our generation style,” he said. “Older generations were more traditional, but for us we do some traditional but mostly modern.” 

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