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Friday, April 19, 2024

Rhythms of unity: AfroVibes unleashes the soul of Afro-Caribbean culture

Learn how one of the largest multicultural dancing groups on campus came together

 

By FAITH DEMEULENAERE — features@theaggie.org 

 

AfroVibes, a student-run multicultural dance group, emerged as a rhythmic force, passionately championing the artistic traditions of Africa and the Afro-Caribbean diaspora. With a compelling fusion of music and dance, this organization is more than just a performance group; it stands as a living testament to the celebration of shared heritage and individuality. 

Formed in 2016, AfroVibes’ mission was to bring African dancing to UC Davis. AfroVibes does events and performances for multiple festivals and events within the Black community, usually not competing with other dance teams. AfroVibes also hosts workshops for UC Davis students to learn African dancing semi-frequently.

“When I joined in 2020, things were still very much under COVID requirements and we were in isolation,” Co-President Dionna Eaglin, a fourth-year communications major, said.  “Even though it was virtual at the time, finding community in these Black and African women was really powerful for me because I felt alone, especially in COVID, but also at a PWI [predominantly white institution].”

Treasurer Naomi Myrye, a fourth-year food science major, described the experience of joining the group and bonding with others. 

“It was a good sense of community,” Myrye said. “I was lucky that I joined when I did because I’m Jamaican, and a senior was also Jamaican. She was kind of a guiding person to me. It really gave me a sense of belonging and sisterhood.”

Social Media Manager Teri Beasley, a third-year communications and cinema and digital media double major, spoke on how AfroVibes impacted her experience with UC Davis early on. 

“I was interested in dance before coming to Davis, and when I saw Afrovibes on UCD’s list of Black organizations to join, it was a perfect opportunity since Davis’ population is pretty small for Black students,” Beasley said.

“Going to practice two times a week is kind of like coming home, where I can have that sense of community, since there’s not that many students who look like me, generally, in Davis,” Beasley said. “Being able to have that group of people who look like me and act like me where I can be myself, it really helped me get acclimated to Davis as well, being connected to the team in that way.” 

AfroVibes is a group that encourages discovery; each member has the opportunity to find and develop their personal, unique style of dance.

When describing her dancing, Beasley said: “Smooth, with a hip-hop flair. Something that’s my own style.”

Eaglin described her dancing as: “Developing. It’s still a work in progress as I learn more styles. Maybe assertive too. But for the whole team, it’s beautiful. Everyone dancing together is beautiful.”

For anyone looking to join the community of AfroVibes, Eaglin had a piece of advice to share. 

“A lot of us on the team would agree that it really is a work in progress, you continuously adapt,” Eaglin said. “Even now, after being on this team for years, I’m still learning. Even though we are a team and the goals are to unify and look good on stage, it’s also a learning experience about yourself. We are very welcoming to newcomers. Everyone’s still growing, we encourage each other and anyone who wants to learn to try.”

Myrye added to this thought and emphasized the importance of the community — not the competition. 

“We get invites to competitions, but we highlight that we are not really a competition-based team,” Myrye said. “Our name is AfroVibes, because it’s for a sense of coming together and feeling the music, then bringing that to the community. It’s all dependent on the community aspect mainly.”

If you want to support AfroVibes, their annual showcase is coming up soon. You can find this information and more on their Instagram page, including information about their shows and dates for tryouts.

 

Written by: Faith DeMeulenaere — features@theaggie.org

 

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