Back by Popular Demand-After School Program at Prairie Mountain School


This fall West African Cultural Arts Institute completed a very successful Drum and Dance After School Program for Prairie Mountain School students grades 5-8. Students enjoyed interactive lesson and educational games that taught them about the culture from Guinea, West Africa through drumming, dancing, and singing classes lead by dedicated and dynamic teaching artists Alseny, Andrea, and Papa Yansane. Back by popular demand WACAI will be offering a similar program for 3rd-5th graders on Tuesdays and Thursdays from February 6th-March 22nd directly after school until 3:30 pm. On the evening of the last day of the program kids will show off what they've learned to their families and school community at the Culminating Event that features a student performance followed by a demonstration of WACAI's performance group. 

What it looks like: Students join teaching artists in the Caforium directly after school Tuesdays and Thursdays, eat a snack, and then participate in drum and dance lessons provided by WACAI. The instruction is a wonderful balance of learning new music, dance, and performance skills and techniques while having fun and building confidence.

Kids will love this joyful and expressive way to move to the beat of live drumming while playing interactive movement games and learning traditional and contemporary African dance steps. Kids will also learn to play a variety of rhythms on drums and percussion instruments provided, improving their hand eye coordination, listening skills, musicality, and ability to collaborate with a group. It's an excellent way for kids to learn about African culture while getting their squirlies out!

The After School Program will culminate with a performance event for the community that enables students to gain performance experience and share what they've learned with their family and friends. This will happen on Thursday, March 22nd in the Caforium from 6:30-7:30 pm. This performance will also educate audiences about the wealth and beauty of West African culture and demonstrate the transformative power of working together to build community.

A middle school girl shared with me how special it was to get to know her fellow school mates through WACAI's Drum and Dance After School Program. She talks about how she used to see them in the hallways, but really had no idea how profound her connection to them would become through collaborating on creating a dance sequence or overcoming the challenge of learning a tricky drum part by watching classmates' hands "to carry her through".

Because this program is designed as an intensive study, with lessons building upon material covered day to day leading up to the culminating  performance students are encouraged to commit to the duration and attend as many of the 14 classes as possible. Keep an eye out for permission slips in the Tuesday folders in the new year and Happy Holidays!