Decatur hosts first international dance show


Decatur galleries regularly host art exhibits. The city’s music venues highlight local musicians. But dance shows?

Decatur’s International Student Association produced the school’s first international dance show on Tuesday, Feb. 5. Teachers and students performed dances from countries including Ethiopia, Cuba, India, and Iraq.

Senior Fikrea Tesema planned the show as a part of her senior project.
Junior Mawal Sidi and Sophomore Senayt Tesema co-hosted the show.
Junior Mawal Sidi and Sophomore Senayt Tesema co-hosted the show.

The proceeds benefitted the Global Village School, a local school for refugee teenage girls who survived war or civil conflict. Some of the girls attended the show and Tesema designated them the “Guests of Honor.”

The students attend the Global Village School free of charge, with transportation and lunch included, because of the financial help the community provides.

“What they do [at the Global Village School] is kind of unknown in our community, and I think it’s great that we can give back,” Tesema said. “And what a better way to raise money than to celebrate all the different cultures that most people don’t even know are at Decatur!”

On their website, the school states that their mission is “to help teenage survivors of war acquire the education necessary to succeed in life and to fulfill their dreams.” They strive to shape their students into educated citizens and leaders in their community and also provide them with the skills to transfer to a high school after 1-3 years of instruction at the school.

Junior Io Gotschall, a native of the Pacific island country Kiribati, danced a traditional Kabuti dance with senior Raven J-Scott along with a Tahitian dance and an original number.

“’Kabuti’ means to move or guide, so we thought it would be fun to bring up some audience members to the stage and teach them a little bit of the dance,” Gotschall said. “I tried to get a guy from the audience to come dance, but none wanted to. I guess they didn’t want to do all of the hip shaking and hand twirling.”

Tesema said that she thought having a dance show would showcase cultures differently than another art form would.

“Every culture has a dance of some sort, so really no group that wanted to show their traditions was left out,” she said. “Plus some of those dances date back to hundreds of years ago, so it’s really a great way for cultures to express the richness of their traditions.”

Tesema feels that the show was an overwhelming success.

“The crowd was really into all the different dances, and afterwards, there was a line of people who came up to me and told me how much they enjoyed it,” she said. “I would definitely attend if someone held another show after I graduate.”

Watch an interview with Tesema, founder of Decatur’s  International Student Association, below.

[vimeo 60180780 nolink]

Video by: Mawal Sidi — DEC Crew