Dancers bring African flair

By Staff Writer
October 7, 2005

Jerry Zurek

Vibrations were pulsing though the floor of the Dixon Center at the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble performance on Saturday, Oct. 1, during Cabrini’s Homecoming Family weekend. The ensemble showed impressive African dances accompanied by the beats oF many African drums.

During their introduction, the performers were described as exciting, electrifying, sensational and amazing. These are the qualities the performers strive for during every performance.

“I could feel the energy from the performers,” said Kristine Jennings, a junior special education major. The children and adults in the ensemble looked very energetic and like they were enjoying what they were doing. The colorful costumes also made the event appealing to Jennings. There were colors of orange, blue, yellow and red that the ensemble members were wearing.

During the show, experience could be seen in every performer. Everyone from the youngest, who was one-year-old, to the older more skilled performers each had something special to bring to the performance.

The young ones were dancing and playing drums just like their older, more experienced group members. There were acrobatics done by the men and boys of the group. The women and young girls formed a drum line and also showed an African style dance.

The music complemented the dancing. When the musicians wanted to slow it down, there was only one drummer banging on his drum. Slowly the music would become more upbeat and the dancers would come in and dance to the music. It seemed that when one dancer would enter, another musician would start playing an instrument. The dancers were reflecting the feeling of the drum beats.

One of the high points of the performance was when a member of the ensemble did an entire African dance on stilts. He was joined by the children and the children were dancing under his long legs.

The Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble came from their headquarters in Camden, N.J. The members of the ensemble come from Camden and the Philadelphia areas. The ensemble was founded in 1984 by Robert and Wanda Dickerson. They are known as one of the largest professional African dance and drum ensembles in the United States.

Their African dance derives from the cultures mainly in West Africa, and that is what they are most popularly known for. But, they also perform songs and dances from many other sections and cultures of Africa.

Their performances could include two members or up to 44 members that could participate in a dance and drum ensemble.

All members of the dance and drum ensemble are also a part of the Universal Pasha Karate school. According to their website,, they want the members to study karate because they believe that “this proves through the understanding of love and discipline, while practicing, working, and training together, that unity can exist in the inner cities of America and other communities.”

If you would like to learn more information about the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble, you can go to their website, to look up future events they will be having.

Loquitur welcomes your comments on this story. Please send your comments to: The editors will review your points each week and make corrections if warranted.

Posted to the web by Brandon Edwards

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