What is Afro-Fusion? New Dance Trend Creator Answers
Fitness Reviewer Glenn Avery interviews dance director Alicia 'Sunshine' on the growing dance trend 'Afro-Fusion' whose origin has been traced back to her St. Louis dance company. Here, Sunshine answers common questions about the new dance craze
GA: Hello Sunshine
GA: So your company has been linked to the term Afro-Fusion? What exactly is Afro-Fusion?
Sunshine: Well my company is Beyond Measure Dance Theater (BMDT). BMDT is an Afro-Fusion based dance company and theater company. Afro-Fusion is a blend of (African) dances and fitness principles. When we say Afro-fusion, (we mean) a blend of dance genres of the African descent, or the diaspora mixed with other influences. It mixes different dances. It can be of course, hip hop influences, West African, a little bit of Haitian, a little bit of Caribbean, or a little bit of swing. Any dance that I've experienced in my training is blended in a funky and cool new way, along with the fitness principles needed for flexibility. And of course with cardio strength and all of those other things.
GA: Got it, so how does Afro-Fusion differ from other African dances.
Sunshine: Well it differs, one, because most African dances are separate. They're of their own, meaning you're working on a specific dance within that style, whether you're taking a West African dance style and you're learning that specific dance. Afro-Fusion BLENDS dances that come out of the African descent. And I think that makes Afro-Fusion interesting. Most of our students come because they need that fitness, health, a healthy living. (So they get that.) But at the same time they're learning things about their culture through the dance. It's a way to help them to connect to movements they do, in the present day, that they may not recognize comes from dances originated from the African continent.
GA: Nice. Afro-Fusion seems to be growing in popularity. Why do you think Afro-Fusion is becoming so popular?
Sunshine: Well, because of all of those reasons I mentioned. People are looking for things to do (to increase) their health that they enjoy, and stay healthy. People are also looking to do things that help them connect with who they are, not only in relation to 'who' they are as an individual but who they are within their culture, within their community, and also within their history. With Afro-Fusion you're able to do both of those. You're getting the health and fitness principles you need, and you're also learning about yourself through the culture of the dance.
GA: Got it. So what exactly is your background?
Sunshine: Oh! Well my background is blended, hence, that's why I'm doing Afro-Fusion. (smile) I am a fitness trained, certified instructor. I'm also a dance, trained and certified instructor. So I wanted to blend the two things that I love - fitness and healthy living. I also love dance. So Afro-Fusion blends those. So that's my background; Illinois State, and Katherine Dunham. Yes! They trained me well.
GA: So as a dancer, where would you like to see Afro-Fusion grow in the coming years?
Sunshine: I (pause). you know what, I've been asked that question before. I would love to see Afro-Fusion grown beyond these walls. I would love to see it be done in other cities I would love for it to be something people could plug into their DVD player and do at home. I would love to see it done in so many places where people are learning about who they are but at the same time their gaining benefits through good health.
GA: Got it! Sounds good. Great interview. Thank you
Sunshine: Thank you.
Alicia Sunshine, Director
(photo by Gara Dyson)