West African Dance
Baba Joda and Friends is a West African dance troupe in Denver led by Baba Joda, a master drummer and dancer. Through thirty years of teaching and building a strong community of dancers and drummers, he is credited as a foundation of African dance, drum and chant in Colorado. Cathy Phelps, Jowanna Norris, Pamela Liverpool and Gina Smith are friends and students of Baba Joda. Cathy Phelps has been a student of African dance with Baba Joda for over ten years and credits his kindness, generosity and teaching for giving her the confidence to perform. “Dancing with Joda & Friends has positively changed my life... I believe I am a more creative and confident person as a result.” Jowanna Norris, has also danced with Joda and Friends for over ten years. “Afrikan dance inspires life energy that heals the mind, body, and spirit. Dance is being one with the universe.”
Amanda Bishop has been dancing most of her life, but discovered her passion for Flamenco eight years ago. She was immediately intrigued by the physical challenge, but now it has become a way of life. The more she learns, the more she realizes how much there is to know and to feel. Mandy has performed nationally and internationally. She has taken classes from master teachers in the US and in Spain. She currently enjoys teaching solo and group lessons and continues to explore what it means to be “an American Flamenco dancer.”
Jan’s Happy Tappers is a senior group of tap dancers, ages 53-89, performing at retirement homes, luncheons, parties, assisted living homes, etc. “We love to make people smile and bring joy to their lives.” Jan Sherman is the director and has been teaching since she was thirteen years old. She can’t imagine life without dance. It’s so much a part of her, she has to take precaution while driving. “Sometimes when I’m driving, I press harder on the pedal, thinking of dance steps.” Her and her dancers are great friends and feel dance is beneficial physically, mentally and socially.
Native American Dances
Dancing holds a great importance to the No Braid family (Arikara). AJ has been dancing and beading all of her life and sees dancing as a way to connect with her family and culture. She also sees dance as an opportunity to share her culture with others. She has passed this perspective on to her two daughters Lara and Larissa. The whole family has won awards for their dancing, but feel the meaning goes much deeper than titles. In addition to dancing, A.J. dedicated much of her childhood to the art of beading. The family regalia that has not been acquired from past generations has been made by her hands. A.J.’s mother Grace Gilette, is the the executive director of the annual Denver March Powwow.
Jeanette Trujillo-Lucero is Founder and Artistic Director of Fiesta Colorado Dance Company. Jeanette has owned and directed the Jeanette Trujillo Dance Studio in Denver for over 25 years. She is a teacher and choreographer of ballet, tap and Jazz as well as Mexican Folklorico, Flamenco and Spanish Classical Dance.