African dance class gets ‘Livin’ in Color’ week moving

The sounds of Shakira were heard Tuesday, April 17, throughout the lower level of the Anderson Student Center as sophomore Mary Ejiofor and senior Jennifer Wilkins taught students African dance moves for the first time this year.

The dancers moved their arms in swimming motions and got on their knees and swayed for parts of the song. The whole group ended the dance by holding hands in a circle while Shakira sang, “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa).”

While some of the dance moves may have been complicated, junior Emmaly Manchanthasouk said she had fun learning.

“I’m totally not coordinated,” Manchanthasouk said. “It was just great to learn a dance from a different culture and make a fool out of myself in the process.”

However, some students like senior Luis Simbana Echeverria, said he would have enjoyed watching the dancers instead of participating in the dance.

“The different levels you get on are killer for the knees,” Simbana Echeverria explained.

This event is a part of the “Livin’ in Color” week at St. Thomas that includes six events hosted by nine clubs and organizations that make up the Student Diversity Committee.

“(Livin’ in Color) means learning about the different cultures there are within the St. Thomas community,” Ejiofor said. “Not just looking through the one lens but looking through the various colors and cultures of life.”

During “Livin’ in Color” week, students receive cards that get stamped at each event, entering them in a drawing for prizes. There was also a lunch and free T-shirts available.

Aside from the tangible perks of attending the week’s events, Ejiofor said it is a good opportunity to get your friends to learn about different cultures.

“It obviously opens them up to new experiences,” Ejiofor said. “If they come to events like this, they can go impress their friends with what they learned and get their minds spinning about the world.”

Freshman Alex Gonzalez, a member of the Pulse dance group on campus, said she was surprised at the event’s energy.

“I didn’t think people would be this energetic to dance; it was fun,” Gonzalez said. “There were people from all different kinds of nationalities; all these people know how to dance.”

Some students said the event changed their perspective, and even Manchanthasouk, a member of HANA, said some of her old assumptions were transformed.

“My perception of African dancing has changed. We think that only African people can do it,” Manchanthasouk said. “Now I realize that it’s dancing for everyone from any culture, and it’s definitely something that you can pick up.”

“Livin’ in Color” week will continue on campus through Saturday, April 21.

Laura Landvik can be reached at