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AFRICAN DANCE / DRUMMERS

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Making a Vow

page 1

By Peggy Chen/ Sunday, May 14th, 2006 / New York Culture Center

"Just take your shoes off and get comfortable." India Branch, the assistant dance teacher, greeted the newcomers at the African Dance and Drumming rehearsal in room 308 of the New York Culture Center. Everyone looked quite comfortable already, in their loose t-shirts or tank tops, jeans or sweats.

She led the group of about seven young women in opening their arms out in front of them and out to the sides, all the while their feet followed. Meanwhile, beats from suede-covered drums reverberated across the room. Craig Wittborn, who is helping to teach drumming, two young men, and a visiting Byakuren member, thumped away at the drums nestled between their feet.

When the dancers were ready for a run-through with the music, Yuri Yamashita, a dancer and former percussion major, played a few beats to set the pace for the drummers to follow. On cue, the dancers moved as a unit and clapped their hands. Considering this was their first rehearsal, they had great unity among themselves and with the drummers.

Later, I had a chance to speak with Afua Cooper, who is in charge of the African Dance and Drumming group. She hopes that the youth in her group will see this activity as an opportunity to overcome their struggles and to develop friendships with other SGI-USA youth. “This is not just a coincidence that we’re all coming together for this activity,” she said, “seeking out what it is to practice Buddhism at this time, seeking out a true mentor.”

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Journal 1 (April 23)
Journal 2 (May 14)
Journal 3 (May 21)
Journal 4 (June 11)
Journal 5 (June 18)
Journal 6 (June 25)
Journal 7 (July 1st)
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July 15th
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