Festival Participants Learn African Dance

Katherine Middleton, Reporter

SUNY Buffalo State, in collaboration with Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Burchfield Penney Art center, participated in Buffalo’s first Humanities Festival Saturday, Sept. 27. The festival, titled “Migration Nation: Moving Strories,” consisted of speeches, films and performance art about and dedicated to immigrants. More than 15 events were held between Ketchum Hall, the Burchfield auditorium and Rockwell Quad.

At 2 p.m., Robin Hibbert and Alassane Sarr taught festivalgoers how to perform the Korteba, an African dance. Sarr, a griot (or storyteller) from Senegal, played the bugarabu drum while Hibbert, a dance instructor from Brooklyn, taught the dance moves. In Senegal and other parts of Africa, a griot is responsible for maintaining the culture of a specific tribe from its beginnings until the present day, including the musical and dance histories. The Korteba is performed during Ramadan and harvest time, but can also be performed at weddings and funerals.

Over the summer, Hibbert taught high school students from Asia the Korteba at Buffalo State.

“I hope this becomes bigger and bigger,” Hibbert said at the Humanities Festival. “It gives you a chance to meet different people and have an exchange of cultures.”

“I have a daughter that was taught by Robin,” said Gail Wells, community specialist at Buffalo State. “She dances for Alvin Ailey now.  When you give people the gift of dance, you’re giving them a gift that can last a lifetime and go from generation to generation.”

After the attendees learned and performed all four parts of the Korteba dance, Hibbert offered a few words of encouragement.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself when you learn new things,” she said. “Learn it. Embrace it. Grow from it.”