Professional dancers from South Africa perform for DHS students

Two disciplines, history and dance, are meeting at Dover High School.

Professional dancers from the University of Delaware and South Africa will host daytime workshops, Friday, with dance routines influenced by African culture. This is all in preparation for a grand finale performance at the Schwartz Center March 11.

The workshops are a partnership between the University of Delaware and Dover High School. They are meant to inspire students to pursue a career in the arts, by exposing them to various forms of dancing.

Tumi Nkomo, a South African model and dancer, is one of the guests.

She’s teaching the Gumboot, a dance South African diamond mine workers created to communicate with each other. The dance imitates the rhythms and beats they produced using their shackles.

Teresa Emmons, head of the newly formed Dover High School Academy of the Arts, is looking forward to Nkomo’s demonstration.

“It’s cool [mine workers] devised this way of communicating with each other through these sounds that eventually became a dance,” she said.

Many students at these workshops dream of becoming a dancer, Emmons said.  She said it helps them to observe and analyze people in the field.

“It’ll open their perspectives,” Emmons said. “In order to be good artists you have to be aware of the world around you. An artist does not exist in isolation. They get their inspirations from the world around them.”

While professional dancers are the focus, students from the Dover High School dance academy will perform, she said.

South African native Colin Miller, a University of Delaware professor and jazz musician, is on deck to perform.

The university’s Same Story, Different Countries dance group will perform to “Every Scar Tells a Story,” a poem about the Middle Passage, the transport of slaves from Africa to North America.

Another dance routine is inspired by a “A Memoriam–4 Little Girls,” about the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.

Sharon Katz and the Peace Train

While the workshops are a chance for students to learn from seasoned dancers, the entire community is invited to a film and concert in March.

On March 10 Dover High School will show “When Voices Meet,” a documentary about Sharon Katz and the Peace Train, a chorus that used music to combat segregation and apartheid in South Africa.

Katz and the Peace Train will be in Dover March 11 at the Schwartz , along with singers and dancers from South Africa, the Ballet Theatre of Dover and Same Story, Different Countries. The high school Academy of the Arts will get a shore of the proceeds.

Katz and the Peace Train will set out on an American tour in Ferguson, Mo. July 4 and continue to 18 cities, including Philadelphia and Wilmington, through mid-July.

Emmons said the workshops bring the hardships of slavery and discrimination to the attention of students.

“You have to know where you came from in order to know where you’re going,” she said. “There’s a lot of confusion in today’s young people when it comes to finding an identity.”

IF YOU GO

“When Voices Meet” video

   WHEN March 10, 9:30 a.m. and noon    WHERE  Dover High School    COST $8, $5 students/children Divided & Reunited benefit concert

   WHEN March 11, 7:30 p.m.    WHERE Schwartz Center for the Arts, Dover    COST $20, $17 seniors, students