Music and Dance

While not required for the Concentration, a vast majority of Africana Studies students participate in on-campus organizations that celebrate the arts, music, and performative cultures of the African Diaspora. These groups include:


Founded in 1989 at Williams College, Kusika performs traditional African music, dance, and storytelling from Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Senegal. This material is the core of Kusika’s repertoire and reflects the creative interests of its artistic directors: Ernest Brown, Associate Professor of Music; Sandra Burton, Assistant Professor of Physical Education and the Coordinator of the Dance Program; and Gary Sojkowski, a professional percussionist and composer. The Zambezi marimba band, founded in 1992, plays marimba music from Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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Sankofa: The Williams College Step Team

The word “sankofa,” from the Akan people in Ghana, loosely translates to “reaching back in order to move forward.” Sankofa was formed in the fall of the ‘96-’97 school year by five women from the class of 2000: Dahra Jackson, Maxine Lyle, Mya Fisher, Melina Evans and Samantha Reed. Stepping at Williams was born.

Sankofa choreographs original material that incorporates popular song, drums, hip-hop, break dance, spoken word, poetry, and sheer creative ingenuity. Stepping features precise, synchronized, and complex rhythmic body movements, combined with singing, chanting, and verbal play.

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The Zambezi Marimba Band

Founded in 1992, The Zambezi Marimba Band plays marimba music from Zimbabwe and Ghana. The word “marimba” comes from the Bantu languages of Central Africa where it means “the wood that sings.” African slaves recreated marimba once they arrived in the Americas beginning in the 1600’s.

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Stalwart Originality

Created by Annemarie Bean and Sandra Burton over 10 years ago, Stalwart was developed to nurture artistic and academic interest in expressions informed by African traditions. Integrating practice and theory, Stalwart provides a context to explore these traditions, as well as new forms of music, dance, media, theater, literature and multidisciplinary art.

For last year’s innovative program, see here.

Useful websites listing events in the dance department, the music department, and the ’62 Center can be found by clicking on the enclosed links.