Interview with Ms. Yobo:
My name is Ms. Yobo, I teach African Dance and Drumming at M.S. 244, M.S. 459, P.S. 107, P.S. 65. I’ve been teaching with BAE for 11 years. I was born and raised in West Africa in a country called Ivory Coast. Dance is part of my culture, so I’ve been dancing since I was little. I came to the U.S. in 1998 and have been teaching ever since. I teach my students traditional West African Dances like Suunu, Ekonkon, Kuku. For example, Kuku is a story about fishing and is danced after a successful fishing trip with fishing rods. The movements mimic throwing a net, casting a line, rowing, and catching a fish.
At first, some of the students didn’t want to try it because it’s different from what they’re used to. In African Dance, you don’t count. The drummer leads and the dancers follow. Some of them didn’t want to try it until they saw other kids having fun with it. Generally, if it’s not hip hop they don’t want to dance. I told them that hip hop comes from African Dance. They would show me the hip hop step and I would show them the African version. After learning that, they loved it. After the show, the students wrote letters telling me they liked my teaching and had fun with the dance. They really enjoyed it in the end!
Watch M.S. 459 Students Dance ‘Kuku’