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New York City Afro Dance Cypher

Back in summer 2022 Judith McCarty hosted the first NYC Afro dance cypher.  As we get ready for the 2nd installment of the cypher on June 15th let’s take a look back at the 2022 event. 


*the below summary was written in summer 2022 after the first event. 


 

It’s was a hot and steamy summer in NYC.  But that didn’t stop people from gathering and celebrating life with good vibes. After 2 years of pandemic lockdowns, dancers were hungry to socialize and restart dance communities. So it was with great excitement dancers welcomed the introduction of the NYC Afro Dance Cypher. 


Afro dance today is becoming a social media and dance studio experience; a far cry from the African street cultures that birthed many of the styles.  Many NYC dancers have been yearning for a space to share and exchange in a positive non club, battle or class room atmosphere. The NYC Afro Dance Cypher delivered just that; a positive and supportive space welcoming and celebrating all Afro dance styles and music.  


While Hip Hop and other NYC based styles have well established dance communities and cultures, Afro is still relatively new to the city’s dance scene.  It is these types of events that are needed to nurture the NYC Afro dance scene and offer a space where the dance and music is recognized and respected. 


The Cypher was organized and hosted by dancer and choreographer Judith McCarty @dance_with_judith and Crees @creeeeess and took place on July 24, at Modega studios in Long Island City, Queens, NY


The event opened with a fun dance circle, encouraging dancers to simply dance and express their style. A live Dj provided music that got the dancers moving.  Later there was a 1 on 1 exhibition dance of 2 rounds and it was nothing short of magical.


We caught up with Judith to understand more about the vision and what we should be looking out for in the future.


AFROCONEX:  Judith, first a big shout out to you and a big thank you for putting on the Afro dance cypher event. These are the types of community building events needed in the community.  Why did you start this event and what do you hope to accomplish with it ? 


JUDITH: We started this event because we felt like the USA African dance community needed a place where we could all gather and exchange, just like back home.  We are all so busy and often barely know each other.  This is also a place where we can unite. 


AFROCONEX:  Africa is a diverse continent with many cultures, and musical styles; something that is often overlooked/misunderstood by many. We love that the event covered the continent and its diversity of sounds and dance styles. Why was it important for this event to truly capture the diversity of sounds and styles coming from the continent ? 


JUDITH: It was very important because of the mainstream eyes on the industry right now. We have the opportunity to show all the different styles, techniques, music, sounds and cultures that truly encompass the true nature of African dance; covering each corner of Africa and not just what’s trending.


AFROCONEX:  Cyphers and battles can be intimidating but you really created a comforting and welcoming space with this event.  What would you say to encourage dancers who are shy to get in the circle and express themselves ? 


JUDITH: just do it. It’s not always a competition, sometimes it’s really about self expression. It even goes as deep as introducing yourself and your feeling through dance, you never really know your full potential until you jump into uncomfortable situations. You only grow if you show. 


AFROCONEX: So much of dance feels like a never ending challenge or content production hamster wheel. For us it was refreshing to see dancers and lovers of the culture just dance.  Do you think it’s important for dancers to just dance and let it flow ?


JUDITH: it is very important to let yourself as a dancers just flow, allow the music to drive you. Even the challenges and contents you see at some point a dancer had to allow themselves to flow in order to achieve certain steps. There’s so much beauty in allowing yourself to get lost in the music.


AFROCONEX:  social and street dances are a product of their environments. Certainly the reality in many African urban centers is different from the urban centers in Europe and USA. This alone creates different ways of expression and communicating dance.   Do you feel that Afro dance is misunderstood because of these differences ? 


JUDITH: Of course it is misunderstood because a lot of the content made is just content, there’s no checks and balances. There is a base form to every technique so no matter how much the step has evolved or changed we still have to pay home-age to its root by executing the proper technique and then demonstrating your own touch to it. The more we keep representing ourselves the more our dances evolve. 


AFROCONEX:  the first event was a success. What can the community expect next and where can they go to find information on upcoming events ? 


JUDITH: The community can expect some more good vibes. Follow our Instagram @nycafrodancecypher for content and exciting announcements for future events. We are bringing you some fresh faces from around the African continent. Stay tune. 

Love and appreciate your support.


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The NYC Afro Dance Cypher returns on June 15th, 2024. For more information check out @nycafrodancecypher


Some videos from the 2022 event 



@Carlosferreras_ and @jung.el



@skoobi.e with the energy






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