My mother taught me from the time I was a little girl that sometimes shutting out the world and letting the rhythm of a great song move your spirit is a sure way to heal the soul. Think about it, even if you’re in a horrible mood, you can put on your favorite tune, dance your heart out, and feel much better afterwards.
I have been dancing professionally for ten years with a traditional West African dance group called Iwa Lewa Heritage Dance Ensemble. We perform mostly in New Jersey for all sorts of events, weddings, funerals, birthday parties, cultural events, you name it. What I enjoy most is sharing the beauty and culture of West African people. My nationality is American but like many slaves brought to the Americas my ancestral ethnicity is African (where....I'm not sure but all the history points to West Africa so that is what I claim).
How I danced my way to Africa you ask? Well, two years ago I was teaching a traditional West African dance class at Rutgers University. I had a student ask me about opportunities to dance in Senegal (the dances that I do are from the Sene-Gambian region). I pose the question to my director at Rutgers University and she loved the idea. After much deliberation, I decided not to go to Senegal but instead to go to Ghana. It took a lot of time and energy to make the necessary connections in Ghana for the student trip to work. The most difficult part about organizing the experience was making our credit driven society work with their cash only driven society. Sounds simple...not really just think, all of our university policies and procedures are based on credit or checks. So, to tell our university accounting office that I needed x amount of cash to make this trip happen was almost impossible. The program was called Discover Ghana. The students were required to meet every Saturday for three to four hours to learn about Ghanaian culture. They learned, danced, sang, and celebrated.
Finally, March 13, 2009 14 students from Rutgers University departed from JFK Airport in New York for Ghana West Africa. I arranged for the students to stay at a local university with other students. They were completely immersed in Ghanaian culture. They took dance classes, visited historic site, mingled with the locals, had lectures, traveled to rural areas, hiked, swam, partied, and just had a really fantastic time. After ten days, we all came back to the US very full from our experiences; experiences that will leave us smiling for years to come.
From that I was inspired to found Excite Culture Tours. We are a full service tour company that provides opportunities for students, non-students, and leisure travelers to experience the true beauty and culture of Ghana West Africa. Visit us on the web www.exciteculturetours.com.