Mugire Amahoro! (Peace be upon you in Kirundi.)
I hope the summer is treating you well!
As we all enjoy the outdoor season, I wanted to visit with five super-talented dancers who won the Fargo Got Talent Show 2023. I visited with Jeanne and Adel, the managers of the Burundian-American dance group called the All-Star Afro Dancers.
The All-Star Afro Dancers is a dance group collective consisting of five Burundian-American cousins. From youngest to oldest: Francine (7), Racheal (9), Berma (10), Kayla (11), and Angel (11). The burning passion they share for dance is matched only by their pride in their cultural heritage, which they put on full display with their performances at every event. They are managed by their aunts Jeanne & Adel. Dance has been their means of expression for at least 5 years, but they have, in the past year, started dancing for events and competitions. They perform at weddings, graduations, schools, and any child-friendly events. Some big events they have danced at include Fargo Juneteenth, Fargo’s Talent Show, UND African Culture/UND Feast of Nations, The Night Bazaar, and the Red River Market. Outside of dancing, they like to spend time with each other, hang out with family and friends, play at the park, swim, and attend church.
If you ever come across one of their dance performances, you will have your breath taken as their passion on stage is contagious and their ability to tell a story by dancing is very impressive.
Until Next Time,
Where do you call home?
Fargo is where we call home. We were born and raised here. Fargo is where our family and friends are. We feel a sense of belonging to the culture and the community.
What is the story of your passion for sharing your culture through dancing?
Dancing is a universal language that can be understood and appreciated by people from all backgrounds. By sharing our dances with others, people can promote understanding and appreciation for different ways of life. It helps to create a more connected and inclusive world. Our dances are fun, energetic, and bring people joy. When we dance, we are able to express ourselves and connect with others. We express our emotions and our creativity in a unique and powerful way.
What has it been like being Afro-Dancers in the Fargo community?
We started dancing when we were 5 years old. We our cousins and our parents have always lived right next to each other so we will get together to watch a lot of YouTube videos of other kids dancing. Then, we would memorize the entire thing and repeat it during family gatherings. We started our group in 2021. Our first performance was at our uncle’s graduation party. As an Afro-Dancer you get to explore different styles and rhythms of African dances, which are often inspired by traditional dances from different countries and regions of Africa. People are always telling us how we bring so much joy and excitement on the stage. People love our facial expressions while we are dancing. Overall, being an AfroDancer is a rewarding and fulfilling experience that allows us to express ourselves creatively while learning about different cultures and styles of dance.
What are some misconceptions about people of East African culture?
As an Afro-Dancer we have heard comments like, “Oh, we didn’t know East Africans could dance to afro beats.” People frequently assume that we are from West Africa. Another misconception that we have heard is that East Africans have the same customs and traditions. However, East Africa is a diverse region with a multitude of cultures, languages, and religions.
Can you share some of the dance shows you do every year?
A few of the dance performances we perform each year include graduation parties, weddings, African culture nights, and community gatherings. Additionally, we took part in the Fargo Got Talent Show organized by Frederick Edwards Jr, where we won first place. We are active on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.
As community members, what is the next problem you are trying to solve?
As community members, we are working towards promoting diversity. Diversity is an important part of our world that should be celebrated and embraced. It refers to the variety of different cultures, languages, religions, and traditions that exist within our global community. By embracing diversity, we can learn from each other and build bridges across cultural divides.
What is your vision for 2030 for the Fargo-Moorhead community?
As dancers, our vision for 2030 is to have a thriving dance career. We want to continue to improve our dance technique and style, while also exploring new dance forms. We see ourselves as a leader in the FargoMoorhead dance community, running our own dance studio and teaching students of all ages and skill levels. We will also consider competing in national dance competitions or even appearing in a dance movie or TV show. We are excited to see where our passion for dance will take us in the next decade and beyond.