ELLA 2017: My Reflection

It has been a couple of weeks since I attended the 3rd Edition of ELLA African Rhythms Affair in New Orleans, Louisiana. The event was organized by women to benefit and empower other women within the Kizomba, Semba, and African Rhythms industry.

As I reflected about my experience, I thought that it would be great to share my point of view with individuals who are or may be interested in learning about the culture and industry. I have attended similar events in the past, but not one organized for women specifically. For me, the event provided a suitable environment for those who value this unique industry I like to call the “Kizomba World”. The setting, in which it took place, encouraged an open and comfortable platform to learn, laugh, and inquire about the different styles of dance and the history behind each of them.

Dance + Inspiration + Empowerment = ELLA

The event sounded intriguing to me from the beginning and I am glad that I decided to attend with Denise, my older sister and one of my travel buddies. It was sort of a last minute decision, but definitely worth every effort.

So, here it goes…

I arrived on Friday, October 6th, checked-in at the hotel, slept for a bit, and then got dressed to attend the first social. The agenda included a reception to welcome all attendees, various workshops, and open discussions to address current issues and concerns within the “Kizomba World”.

The workshops included dance styles such as Kizomba, Semba, Afro House, and Kuduro. As I learned from the different women instructors, I realized the need for such events, where women instructors are showcased. Before attending this event, I was not aware of the incredible influence that women have in this industry. I may sound a bit biased, but I vouch for a stronger presence of women within the industry.

Manuela Marsal Cabitango‘s knowledge about Kuduro and Afro House was quite interesting. As she conducted her workshop, she discussed the history behind each style. Her workshop became more than just the physical act of dancing. I felt more connected to an already existing love for the culture. I have included one of her demonstrations below.

Efy Afro-ginga‘s unique style opened my eyes to my own roots. It was inspiring to see her teach and encourage us to try the different steps, which were quite difficult. She made sure that she provided individual attention so, we could all participate and contribute to the class. It was quite refreshing to move my body in ways I never thought possible. As I sat outside one of the ballrooms in between workshops, I heard her play a very familiar song on her cell phone. As we conversed after I identified the singer, I realized how much she appreciates and enjoys what she does. She is from Guiné-Bissau and that hits close to home to me as a Cabo Verdean woman. You may watch one of her demonstrations below.

Vanessa’s energy was unreal. Her positive energy during her workshops reminded me of why I decided to attend ELLA this year. She exudes happiness as she dances and connects with the audience.

J Lyn’s style was fierce and kept me engaged during her workshops. I was excited to learn that she teaches in New York, which is close to me. I look forward to joining one of her workshops in the near future. In addition to learning dance moves from her, I had the opportunity to discuss prominent social issues while we were outside of one of the ballrooms.

Zilda’s unique style was quite impressive. I enjoyed her workshops as well as discussing her background. It was also a great opportunity for me to practice the Portuguese language as we interacted between workshops. She and Vanessa are featured below as they performed for the attendees.

I have attended workshops led by Chalianna in the past and I appreciate her expertise with Kizomba and Semba. My experience was different this time. I felt more connected to the dance movements and had the opportunity to ask specific questions. The environment felt more relaxed. She wore many “hats” throughout the weekend, which I find quite impressive. She was an organizer, an instructor, and moderator during our discussions.

It was amazing to meet and learn from all of the instructors who showed anything short of excitement and love for the culture.

Upon finishing the last workshop, the organizers and instructors decided that it would be a good idea to have an open discussion. As we sat on the floor (photo below), it became apparent that most of us in attendance were dealing with similar issues within the industry. It was inspiring to see how we learned from each other.

It is imperative to take time to learn about the different aspects of the culture in order to add value to needed conversations and the industry in general. I had the opportunity to make new friends and connect with old ones. It was also a great opportunity to explore the beautiful city of New Orleans, which I had heard so much about.

The workshops and discussions allowed me to appreciate the culture and inspired me to learn more about it. I am grateful to have reconnected with individuals I met at previous events and for the new friendships. It is essential to connect with other women so, we can appreciate and empower one another. It was important for me to be there with women from different backgrounds.

I came home with a sense of accomplishment and, of course, with unique pieces of jewelry and headpieces thanks to vendors such as HIMBA sacs et chaussures en wax, Ginga Pura Clothing, and Banga Society.

It is important for me to thank Chaliana, Carla, and Prazeres, and all involved in organizing such an amazing platform to inspire and empower women such as myself, who love to dance and learn about this incredible industry.

#Music #Dance #Kizomba #Tarraxinha #Semba #Ella2017 #NOLA #ELLA2018 #Inspiration #Empowerment #AfroRhythms #Kuduro #AfroHouse


7 thoughts on “ELLA 2017: My Reflection”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s