L to R: Casey Taylor, the dance instructor, Casey’s older sister Alex, and the drummer
While visiting her sister in Africa this month, PBT dancer Casey Taylor made time for multicultural movement with an African dance class that she’ll “remember for the rest of her life.” Read more of her reflections on the movement and other tidbits from the trip in the following blog post.
My little sister and I spent 10 days in Abidjan, Côte D’Ivoire, visiting our older sister who is working there at the U.S. Embassy as a Foreign Service officer. Getting there and back took about 24 hours each way; we had to take a 7-8 hour flight to Paris then another 5-6 hour flight down to Abidjan. When we arrived, our sister picked us up at the airport and took us back to her house where we stayed for the entirety of our stay. We spent our afternoons doing many activities around the city and in places slightly outside. We visited the local markets, buying fabrics and original tribal masks from her favorite vendors, bought delicious fruit from her regular “fruit ladies” (it was mango season so I had the incredible luxury of having a perfectly ripe mango almost every day). We took a few day trips to small beach resorts a little over an hour drive away, and spent a few days participating in ex-pat organized games of ultimate Frisbee and volleyball. At night, we either went out to dinner at some of her favorite restaurants – featuring local Ivorian cuisine as well as Lebanese and other kinds – with her friends. We also spent a few lazy nights in and cooked for ourselves.
The highlights of my trip included our visit to my sister’s tailor. We brought the fabrics we bought at the market to his shop, gave him examples of dresses and/or skirts we liked and asked him to make them for us in the Ivorian fabric. A day later he produced beautiful, professionally-made clothes that fit us to perfection. The other highlight was the African dance class I went to with my sister. She and one of her other friends go every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. for a one-hour class at the local art school. Thank goodness it was only an hour, because I was dying of heat and humidity before the class even started, and there was no air conditioning. The instructor taught us a dance from a tribe that lives in the north of the Côte D’Ivoire. He spoke only French, so I learned from following his movement and from the translations my sister so kindly provided. We danced in bare feet. The style of movement was much different from ballet, obviously, but was in some ways like modern. We lifted one leg a few times and there were a few jumps in the combination, but it was mostly grounded movements with quick footwork and quick movements with our upper body as well. I was sore for days after! Even our quick warm-up had my legs burning. I am so glad I got to learn traditional African dance (in Africa!) and will remember the experience for the rest of my life, even if I can’t remember the combination we learned.