Benedicta “Bennie” Ojibah, third-year pharmacy student at Purdue University, loves many kinds of dance, but her favorites are urban and African-influenced styles such has hip hop and reggae. She couldn’t find many studios in Indianapolis to express her love for these styles, so Ojibah made her own.
In mid-Jully Ojibah will hold the second annual AfroDiva Summer Dance Intensive, a free two-week camp aimed to get girls involved in urban and African dance.
As the sole organizer and instructor, Ojibah’s goal is to expose girls to a new form of dance regardless of socio-economic status. Ojibah’s classes will have fitness and cultural elements. The students will meet for about two hours a day four times a week to learn choreography. At the end of the two weeks, the girls will perform in a showcase for parents and friends.
“My favorite part is when we did the performance on the last night,” Janae Turner, an 11-year-old who attended the dance camp last year, said. “It was really fun to do, and I liked it a lot.”
The showcase proved to be a success, impressing Ojibah and the audience with how much they accomplished in just two weeks time. The crowd cheered and encouraged the girls throughout the showcase, giving them energy and motivating the girls to perform at their best.
“I originally got involved because I wanted to improve my dancing skills,” Mebele Onwuaduegbo, a 15-year-old student who attended AfroDiva Summer Dance Intensive last year, said via email. “Bennie was a wonderful dance teacher, and she helped me improve my confidence in dancing. My favorite memory from the program was the freestyle part of the showcase.”
The camp is free, so it is accessible to any girl who wants to dance, but there are still costs to fund the program. Last year Ojibah paid all the expenses out of pocket, which proved to be too costly to repeat. This year Ojibah is funding the project through the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe. The goal is $500. So far she’s received over $400.
“I know training is expensive,” Ojibah said. “Especially when dancing is something you are really invested in. My priority was bringing awareness to the style of dance and the opportunity to grow in that style of dance, which I feel is not really common in Indy.”
Ojibah said the intensive can teach girls several lessons such as the importance of physical activity, culture and teamwork.
“It’s good at a young age to learn the nature of sisterhood and how to create communities in the spaces you involve yourself in,” Ojibah said.
Contact staff writer Ben Lashar at 317-762-7848. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminLashar.
Dance, dance, dance!
AfroDiva Summer Dance Intensive
When: July 16 to 27
Where: 3736 Commercial Drive
Information: Benedicta Ojibah, firstname.lastname@example.org
Support the intensive
Donate to the AfroDiva Summer Dance Intensive at gofundme.com/afrodiva-summer-dance-intensive.