CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Students at Del Mar College Heritage Campus are celebrating Black History Month with a unique dance lesson.
African Soul International dance group visited students this week to share the influence and history behind African dance.
Although all forms of dance exemplify passion, expression and emotion, African dance has sprouted roots of tradition and culture.
Dr. Jewel Jackson is the founder of African Soul International and said she started this dance group as a way to bring opportunity to her community in Cleveland, Ohio.
"This was something I didn't have access to as a little kid," Jackson said, "And I thought, what if kids who grew up like me, really learned who they were. Outside of hip hop, outside of stereotypical television and movies, but to really know their culture and history."
African dance dates back to the early 1400's, where it was passed down from African societies as a way to celebrate religion, spirituality, values and to unify communities.
Students with Del Mar College were encouraged to join in with the dancers, learn a few dance moves and for a moment, take part in the art deeply woven into African heritage.
Gabriella Alvarado says she enjoyed trying something new and is happy this opportunity was offered at the community college.
"I think it's a really beautiful experience," Alvarado said. "it opens new doors for people and it's a new opportunity to really get involved in the movement of dance and really understand it so that we can be one."
Dr. Jackson says once she was exposed to the art of African dance, her life changed forever. She says it meant she had a chance to learn more about herself and find out who she was internally.
Jackson refers to her passion for dance as a piece of the puzzle. She believes that once people find that puzzle piece, although it doesn't really fit yet, they will begin to realize the power, the beauty, the strength, the resilience and the creativity within themselves.
African Soul International is based in Los Angeles, but the dance group has traveled all over the world to perform. They've danced alongside some of music's greatest artists including Beyonce and Stevie Wonder. The dance group has even performed with the Cleveland Cavaliers, in Coming To America starring Eddie Murphy and have been featured on Disney's Black Panther soundtrack.
For more information and upcoming events for African Soul International, head to their website and find out if they'll be coming to a city near you.