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New York

Foreign Fulbright

Bridging the Atlantic through Traditional East African Dance and Music

April 4, 2013

Alfdaniels Mabingo, 2011-2013, Uganda (center, on the big drum), performing with fellow NYU Steinhardt Dance Education students during the annual Distinguished Faculty Concert (photo courtesy of Cris Dopher)

My journey to New York University (NYU) to pursue graduate training in dance education started when I was still young. My artistic creativity, performance dexterity and exposure to dance artistry were nurtured and molded by the day-to-day, informal community-based dance experiences of my childhood. My mother would always sing me lullabies; my young peers always challenged me to create and share music and dance moves. These experiences came with me as I left my home country, Uganda, to attend NYU as a Fulbright Student.

When I arrived at NYU, I realized how different my new environment felt: accents, social interaction and studying styles, classroom dynamics, grades, pedagogy, music and dance traditions, food, modes of transportation – were all alien to me. I experienced what I would call “welcome to New York City” shock. My challenge was how to build on my cultural history, academic acumen, and ambitions to fit into this new environment. Dance and music helped me to become comfortably oriented in this unfamiliar setting.

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