Calgary dancers celebrate the roots of popular dance genres: ‘It all comes from Africa!’

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WATCH: We’re just a couple of days away from the start of Black History Month and some Calgarians are really stepping up to kick off the celebration in style. Gil Tucker has the story – Jan 30, 2019

Several Calgary dance groups are joining together to celebrate Black History Month, with a show that explores the African roots of nine popular dance genres.

“The show is called Unganisha,” producer Wumni Idowu said. “Unganisha means ‘connect’ in Swahili.”

The various groups specialize in dance styles like hip hop, tap, jazz, samba and salsa.

READ MORE: A unique dance collaboration with African and South Asian influences

“Stuff that came from Africa, brought here and westernized,” dancer Seigred Cortez said. “Trying to bring that out so people can see what we actually have to offer in the African community.”

“The fact that the transatlantic slave trade happened,” Idowu said, “and brought slaves from Africa and dropped them off in different regions of the world is what created these dance styles.”

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“It all comes from Africa!” Cortez said.

The origins of tap dancing provide one example.

“In African dance we dance a lot with our feet,” Idowu said. “You’re stomping your feet and you’re dancing. Tap dance was created because of that.”

READ MORE: ‘That helps keep us going’: South African firefighters break into song and dance upon arrival in Edmonton

The dancers will perform Unganisha on Saturday, Feb. 2 at Arts Commons in downtown Calgary, with shows at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

There’s also a free cultural fair at the venue between 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

More information is available online.

“We’re not only connecting with the roots of Africa and those modern dance styles,” Idowu said. “We’re also connecting with different diverse communities coming together as a way for us to connect.”