Afro dance has ignited a revived connectivity between the African continent and the diaspora. From Europe to the Americas, Afro descendants are embracing the modern rhythms and movements of urban Africa.
Colombia, with a large Afro descendent population is one of the countries in Latin America that has embraced urban Afro dance culture. Barranquilla, Cartagena, Cali and Bogota, are some of the cities where we see Afro dance culture flourishing on our social media feeds. And while the culture was first primarily adopted by Afro Colombians, we are seeing an embrace of Afro dance by the broader Colombian population.
Social media and the virality of Afro dance videos contributed to the introduction of the style in Colombia. But it is also the hard work and dedication of Afro dancers and teachers in Colombia that has helped to spread the culture within the country.
We connect with Erwin Peinado, one of the standout Afro Dancers in Colombia to get a better understand of Afro dance in Bogota.
AFROCONEX: Through social media it appears that Afro dance is very popular in Bogota/Colombia. Why do you think Afro dance has gained such popularity in the country ?
ERWIN: For me, Afro dance has become popular because in many ways it has been cultural adopted by Afro-descendants. As Afro-descendants, we have a relationship/connection to the dance genetically and historically speaking. The connection with the music, with steps and movements, has generated new, beautiful and addictive sensations that have made this dance grow.
AFROCONEX: What are the Afro dance genres and music styles that are popular in Bogota?
ERWIN: Afro House, Kuduro, Ndomboló and “Afro Fusion” are done a lot; we also like to create and play with the steps of other styles.
AFROCONEX: Have you visited other Colombian cities ? Which city do you feel has the strongest Afro music and dance scene ?
ERWIN: At this time, due to the study and cultural immersion of the dance, Bogotá has it. It is the capital and where information arrives more easily. On the other hand, around Colombia, in cities such as Cartagena, Barranquilla, Santa Marta, in departments such as César and La Guajira, they have gained quite a lot of strength and recognition for being coastal cities where the music and dance is strong.
AFROCONEX: Are there places in Bogota where Afro music and dance can be enjoyed?
ERWIN: If we talk about clubs, bars or places to go out dancing, unfortunately no. Afro music is still growing in Colombia in general, but more and more Afro songs are being played. We are still in the process of streamlining the music here in Colombia.
AFROCONEX: How has Afro music and dance influenced how urban dance is done in Bogota/Colombia ?
ERWIN: It has had a great positive impact and it is constantly growing. Afro dance can already be seen in urban dance championships where it is taking a lot of prominence. And this is due to the study that has been applied to the Afro dance genres.
AFROCONEX: Being that Colombia is very far from Africa and many of the international teachers have yet to frequent Colombia for workshops, how do you learn and develop your Afro dance skills and technique ?
ERWIN: In 2019 I had a trip to Johannesburg - South Africa. There, I was able to develop skills and knowledge with native dancers from different cities. I was able to bring this important information to my country for the development of Afro dance. I continue to share information frequently with the friends I made during the trip. On the other hand, thanks to the internet we can also communicate directly with dancers through Instagram and other social networks. This has helped us a lot in our studies.
AFROCONEX: Specifically for you, has Afro dance created any type of community or connection with Africa and the black diaspora?
ERWIN: A large part of the country (Colombia) are descendants of Africa due to the Spanish colonization that brought with it African slaves. I think that point created our relationship and connection with Africa many many decades ago. For me listening to this music and rhythms created an almost automatic reaction/attraction; it's in our genes.
AFROCONEX: Colombia has definitely established itself as a Reggaeton powerhouse. Is there a local way in which Reggaeton is danced in Colombia? Or is Reggaeton dance pretty much a fusion of popular dance styles (Afro, dancehall, hip hop etc)
ERWIN: There are two ways to dance Reggaeton: The one you learn in clubs and the one they teach you at dance schools. These are two different directions. One completely empirical and the other more choreographic that teach different points.
In my opinion, when it happens in dance studios, it is more linked to the fusion of popular styles and steps within Reggaeton.
AFROCONEX: What are some things you would love to see happening in the Afro dance/dance community in Bogota/Colombia?
ERWIN: I would love to see the dancers have the opportunity to travel to different places and the talent of the country visualized, which would be really good.
AFROCONEX: For those who are thinking about visiting Bogota/Colombia and experiencing Afro dance, what are your recommendations on places to go, dancers to meet, studios to check out and local artists who are making cool Afro centric music ?
ERWIN: Speaking of studios where Afro dance is internalized, I recommend:
Dancers I recommend are:
And many many more!
Check out our video collaboration with Erwin.