Campus News

Feel the Power of Traditional African Dance

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 24, 2011) – The audience will Feel the Power at the Lexington premiere of the Umdabu Dance Company’s unique performance of South African song, dance and culture. But don’t expect to sit back with arms crossed at this concert; this is an interactive event that will have you swaying and stomping to the beat of Zulu drums.

The Birmingham, Ala.-based dance theater is dedicated to the preservation and presentation of traditional and contemporary South African history and culture, particularly the Zulu people, the largest tribe in South Africa’s 11 tribes.

The touring company will perform Feel the Power at the University of Kentucky at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28, in Memorial Hall. Sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, the College of Arts and Sciences and the African Student Association, the event is free and open to the public.

As a rare treat before the performance, the leader and artistic creator of the performance will share some of his life story growing up in South Africa as a Zulu during apartheid. The talk is scheduled from 4:30-5:45 in room 213 Kastle Hall.

“Their buoyant energy and exuberant rhythms capture a part of South Africa as it is today, while also sharing with the audience what South Africa was like in the past,” said Lauren Kientz, director of the South African Initiative, a program in the College of Arts and Sciences. “Our initiative is designed to reach Lexingtonians of all age levels and this dance performance is the perfect way to introduce South Africa to anyone unfamiliar with its music, history, and culture.”

UK's College of Arts and Sciences is continuing an intellectual journey of international proportion this year with featured South African activists, scholars, politicians, art exhibits, performances and coursework. The South African Initiative, with the theme of "South Africa & Kentucky: Different Lands, Common Ground," will provide the campus community as well as the general public with a closer look at the two societies’ rich histories and present-day conditions. For more information on the South Africa Initiative, please contact Program Director Lauren Kientz at, or visit

"The MLK Cultural Center is especially excited about the educational potential of this performance by Umdabu Dance Company," said Chester Grundy, director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Center. "Our partnership with the College of Arts and Sciences allows us to contribute an exciting cultural/educational component to (the college’s) year-long Kentucky & South Africa initiative. We offer this as one more contribution to our efforts to advance global education."

The Umdabu Dance Company has performed at numerous universities and arts festivals around the United States. They have also worked with underserved young people who would not normally be exposed to arts experiences, particularly South Africa dance, history and culture.

"This event will allow the Lexington and UK community to open their minds to other cultures and relate to people of different heritages in other parts of the world and increase one's global awareness," said Eseosa Ighodaro, president of UK African Student Association. "Because of the interconnection of international societies, it is important to be exposed to world history."

The dance company brings South African culture to UK’s center stage. All one needs to do is be at Memorial Hall to experience the sights and sounds of a people living 8,000 miles away. For glimpses of what to expect, visit, and .

This event is part of UK’s 2011 Cultural Diversity Festival, which runs from Feb. 27 to April 2 and features many cultural events, including concerts, performance theatre, interactive workshops and scholarly lectures. The festival promotes cultural awareness, highlights the wealth of diversity represented at UK and strives to engage all students, faculty and staff as well as the Lexington community, by fostering dialogue, encouraging new experiences and promoting unity. Both UK and Lexington communities are invited to experience these cultural and educational programs. All festival activities are open to the public, and most are free. For more information, visit