Step into Afro Hip Hop dance classes

Still of the Afro-Hip Hop dance classes held every Thursday at the Charlotte Street Art Centre. (Submitted: Oscar Tecu)

The rhythm of Afro Hip Hop dance classes, where passion and cultural expression are infused into every step.

In March and April, the Charlotte Street Arts Centre hosts Afro Hip Hop dance classes directed by Scholastic Soares, a Tanzania-born artist that became a Canadian resident in 2001.

Oscar Temu, the ArtReach Manager at Charlotte Street Arts Centre, reached out to Soares to lead Afro Hip Hop dance classes for five weeks.

“I was happy to take on this opportunity,” said Soares, whose dance background covers hip hop and AfroDance. For the dance workshops, she plans to implant a blend of these styles, sharing her passion for dance and cultural expression with participants.

“I never learned afro, as professionally, it was more of just something that I really enjoyed doing,” she said.

In her middle school age, dance became Soares’s go-to for self-expression.

“It kinda puts me in a position where I feel I can express my feelings.”

Since then, she has taken every opportunity to dance, participating in events like Black History Month or dancing at the YMCA. Dance became a profound part of her life.

Soares said seeing other people, in the dance class, having a good time and being part of somebody’s joy is something she really thrives on. 

“The joy of spending time is something that I like.” 

Soares said the Afro Hip Hop classes are open to everyone and no dance experience is required. 

“I do that so everybody can feel they can dance. I make the dance moves very simple, just so everybody can participate and can feel the movements as we continue to learn new stuff in class.”

Every week there’s a new routine but Soares starts each class going through last week’s routine so the new participants can see what they worked on.

The class fee is $15 per class and the classes are from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

“We’ve had two classes so far toward the third. And honestly, so far, it’s been awesome.”

Soares said her favourite moment is when participants ask her to be recorded so they can practice at home or show the dance they learned to their friends.

“It’s a nice social time to get out of your comfort zone as well,” she said. “I’m just here to help them to have a good time and it’s nice to move your body and exercise, listen to music that comes from the neighbourhood and meet new people.”

Even when for students it is their first time trying Afro Hip Hop, Soares makes sure to give them tentative dances to make sure they’re still with the class.

For Soares, the dance classes are an opportunity to try something new and perhaps discover skills you never knew you had.

“I hope they can take little pieces that they had in class and share with friends and continue on to listen to Afrobeat music and have a good time.”