African Caribbean Dance Theatre visits FAMU

Students engage in a workshop hosted by the ACDT at FAMU
| Photo credit: Aldernico Brioche 

The African Caribbean Dance Theatre hosted its first workshop on Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University’s campus recreational center Oct. 2. Many students participated in the informative session. The workshop consisted of a dance class and a question and answer session on drumming in African culture.

ACDT began with the passion, enthusiasm, and a desire to share African dance with others. Marcus and Jevelle Robinson began dancing as adults with the Orchesis Contemporary Dance Theatre at FAMU under the instruction of Dr. Beverly Barber and the Black College Dance Exchange.  The couple found their niche in African dance.

ACDT makes sure to teach anyone who participates in their classes not only dance skills but invaluable tangible skills.

“When a student and his or her family comes into our environment, we utilize it as an opportunity to mold them with character development skill sets that can be transferred to all aspects of their life,” Robinson said. “African dance is innately physical, mental and very culturally stimulating.”  

One dancer stood out during one of their classes. Tiffany Thompson is a mother of four and has been dancing with ACDT for 11 years. Thompson has two boys and two girls. 

Thompson provided logical advice for students who are thinking about trying out ACDT. “This is more than just a college organizational club, after you graduate, this is something that will stick with you for the rest of your life,” Thompson said. “ACDT is a great way to start getting connected to your roots and get your body and mind open to a different world.”  

Thompson also stressed the physical improvements since she have seen dancing with ACDT. “I’ve had four children and the biggest size I’ve been was 18. Now I am an eight. This is the fittest I’ve ever been.

ACDT has had a great impact on the community. The Robinsons’ wanted to pass on what African dance did for their lives to others in the community.

Outside of the participants they serve through year-round/weekly classes, they are in schools and communities both urban and rural.  Outreach is significant, particularly because of ACDT’s mobility to go anywhere and do a workshop or performance. 

“Marcus and I would suggest that if young people are interested in some aspect of the arts (visual or performing), always keep it as a part of their lives,” Robinson said.  “If you can make a living at it then do it!  It can be difficult to subsist on an artist’s salary.  Keep your passion for the arts in your life, but be realistic about making a living from it,” said Robinson.

Dance instructor Omitola McIntosh is hoping that this workshop is the first of many. “I hope we can come back and do more workshops in the future.