Students at Valley College get history lesson from Lula Washington and her Los-Angeles based dance troupe.
By Kayla Hewitt, Staff Writer
On a brightly lit stage in the dark auditorium of the Main Stage Theater, a young woman dashed and leaped across the stage, her scarlet gown and large, multi-colored flag flowing behind her.
The students crowding the auditorium were taking in the sights of the Lula Washington Dance Troupe at Valley College as part of the Black History Month celebrations.
The multi-faceted performance lasted an hour and a half, and spanned generations of African American art, with themes of unity, community, and togetherness. The dancing was punctuated by appearances from the leader of the troupe, Lula Washington, as she introduced and explained each piece. She also got the crowd involved in the show, with dance exercises and a question and answer session once the show had concluded.
“I hope that students of the college can feel a connection to art and history of African American dance,” said event organizer and ASU Commissioner of Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Alexandria Smith, “And see how African American dance has contributed to the art form of dance.”
Students were taken on a journey through African American dance, with pieces ranging from a tribute to warrior tribes to pieces about contemporary Civil Rights leaders like Rosa Parks. There was a piece that was performed while a speech by Martin Luther King JR played over the speakers, and another dance was performed to Lula Washington’s dramatic reading of Langston Hughes’ “I, Too.”
“We wanted the students to see themselves, and see someone who looks like them,” dancer Christopher Frasier said. Frasier has been dancing since college, and was inspired to join the Lula Washington Troupe since he saw them at a black college convention.
He got involved with the dance troupe because of their work. The Lula Washington Dance Troupe also functions as a school in South Los Angeles, dedicated to teaching inner-city kids dancing and creative expression.
Students seemed to enjoy the show, as the hushed silence of the auditorium often broke into cheers and applause throughout the afternoon. Valley student Danielle Franklin said, “the performers were really feeling the music.”
Students even got involved in the performance- at one point, Washington asked some students to step on stage and dance.
This performance, held Feb. 17, kicked off the Black History Month celebrations on campus. Details of the events times and locations can be found here: