I’ve met a sagacious Ghanaian dance professor at the University of Colorado named Nii Armah Sowah. He has opened the eyes of many wealthy, uptight white American college students to the possibilities of a therapeutic, truly supportive community. He does this through movement and song in his African dance and singing classes.
Most therapy in the US, especially of the Freudian persuasion, finds most success by focusing greatly on the individual. We often think about our growth, development, and change simply in the context of our own personal sphere. But in many areas of the African continent, traditional therapy has its emphasis on the community instead. For me, the effects of this change of focus have been immensely fulfilling.
By getting dancers and singers out of their heads, and focusing on the beauty of group cultivation, Nii Armah teaches important human skills. I myself have learned selflessness, openness, responsibility, love, tolerance, compassion, confidence, emotional strength, physical strength, humor, how to be supportive, how to seek support, how to connect with the earth, how to connect with my fellow man…the list goes on. Nii Armah’s spirit and enthusiasm for the human potential are just the antidote to our technology and materialism driven isolation from one another.
If you would like to register for Nii Armah’s singing class in Boulder, visit 1000-voices.com.
Here are some resources for community dance classes.
Maputo’s African Dance Class video.
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