Community Comes Out for Fifth Annual “Shall We Dance?”

June 27, 2011

On June 23, Low Library was transformed into a lively dance studio for Columbia’s fifth annual “Shall We Dance?”, sponsored by the Office of Government and Community Affairs, the School of Continuing Education-Summer High School Program and the University’s Arts Initiative. Professional dancers and choreographers from around the city taught hundreds of participants the key steps to afro-samba and belly dance in the first of a two-part series of free workshops held on campus this summer. Following the workshops, a dance party, hosted by DJ Stormin’ Norman, gave everyone a chance to show off their new moves.

Quenia Ribeiro led the workshop on afro-samba. A native of Rio de Janeiro, Ribeiro has taught at some of New York’s finest dance studios, including Alvin Ailey and Jose Limon Studios. The belly dancing workshop was taught by Arianna al Tiye, who teaches at the Mark Morris Dance Theater and is a founder of The Ethnic Dance Programme at Saint Michael Academy in New York City.

“‘Shall We Dance?’ is a great example of the kind of learning on our campus that brings together an extraordinary diversity of people from the University and our local community,” said Lamar Lovelace, senior project coordinator for Columbia’s Office of Government and Community Affairs. “Each style represents a culture and a history that is being performed and observed across New York City and throughout the world.”

A second, mid-summer “Shall We Dance?” is planned for July 21 starting at 6:30 p.m. The dance styles to be covered in July include Bollywood, taught by Pooja Narang, artistic director of The BAX Dance Company in New York, and hip hop, taught by Tweetie, a Bronx native who has worked with popular performers, including Jay-Z, LL Cool J, Mary J. Blige and Kanye West.

“As somebody who came to the art form of dance as a ballerina when I was four, to see people experience the wide range of what dance has to offer is great,” said Marcia Sells, associate vice president for program development and initiatives in the Office of Government and Community Affairs and associate dean of community outreach at Columbia’s School of the Arts. “To give people the chance to experience the spaces of the University in a different way, as opposed to just a lecture, to be in the Rotunda and have people learning Bollywood is very exciting.”