Troupe teaches African dance to students

October 26, 2009 (CHICAGO) On Monday, they visited Jones College Prep teaching students about African dances as some of the students prepare for a trip they hope to take to Ghana.

Several Jones College Prep High School students have been practicing twice a week for over a month to learn African dance steps for a trip to Ghana in April. They will be performing at numerous fundraising events in hopes of raising money for the educational trip.

"This dance is very hard. The steps are easy to learn, out's just the energy and the amount of energy tax on your body is really crazy," said Quentin Sledge, Jones College Prep student.

"I learned a lot. I thought it was something you do for fun, but it's very challenging," said Pedro Ruiz, Jones College Prep student.

As part of their outreach program, the Luna Negra dance organization offered to instruct the students on African dances.

"The Latin culture is heavily influenced by African dance. This is one of the many components," said Mariam Thiam, Luna Negra outreach coordinator.

The program hopes to send ten students to Ghana to learn about the history of slavery and origins of the African culture.

"It has been helpful specifically, in terms of getting the kids an avenue to get in touch with themselves, specifically through dance," said William McHenry, Jones College Prep instructor.

"It challenges us a lot on our stamina and our ability to be agile," said Malcolm Cherry, Jones College Prep student.

Students discover the dances are really physical and they must be in good shape . They each get a chance to shine. The instructor says that one student who really stands out is 17-year-old Quentin sledge who intends to study dance professionally and looks forward to going to Ghana.

"Going to Africa is an amazing privilege. I mean, that would be something that I'm really looking forward to," said Sledge.

The instructor says they will be ready to have a dance circle in Ghana with other students.

This Wednesday at 6 p.m. the students will be appearing at a gala event at the South Shore Cultural Center where they will perform the African dances they have learned. They will dance for more than 300 individuals and hope to raise enough money for their trip.

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