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NAAADT History continued...

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Kariamu & Company: Traditions (2006)

Left to Right: Denene Richberg, Jumatatu Poe, Dina-Verley Christophe, Khalilah Ali-El, Karimau Welsh, C. Kemal Nance, Jada Copeland, Tamara, Thomas, and Brandon Collins. 

      After OUT’s initial meetings in 2000, the membership grew as the larger Umfundalai community began to participate in its efforts.    While OUT called itself an organization, it functioned more like an ad hoc committee; it supported specific dance events as they arose but had yet to find its autonomy as a vehicle for Umfundalai programming. It would continue to function this way for another 12 years.  In a weekend-long retreat at Norfolk State University (Norfolk, Virginia) in May 2011, Welsh charged Umfundalai’s master teachers to lead OUT and Umfundalai’s evolving teaching community.  In 2011, Umfundalai had one dance master and two master teachers, Glendola Xllyhema Mills, EdD, C. Kemal Nance, PhD, and Saleana Pettaway, EdM, respectively.  all of whom attended this retreat.  Upon Welsh’s designation, the three dance masters became the Council of Umfundalai Teachers. 


     Upon the formation of the Council of Umfundalai Teachers (“the Council”),  the three would meet with welsh sporadically for the next ten years.  “The Council” would then re-invent itself as an advisory entity to NAAADT upon Welsh’s passing in October 2021. The year, 2012, would reveal itself to be a turning point for OUT.  It was then when OUT strated to convene regular training sessions for Umfundalai teachers.  The initial efforts were characterized as “mini-intensives” during which teachers who had moved away from the Philadelphia area and/or had been disconnected from a regular dance practice, could calibrate their understanding of Umfundalai vocabularies and protocol.  Until 2013, Kariamu Welsh, in conjunction with the Institute of African Dance Research and Performance, granted teaching certification based on a dancers’ growth in the technique as observed by their close interaction either with Welsh or their performance with Kariamu & Company: Traditions. In February 2013, OUT convened the first Teacher’s Certification Ceremony through which certification was achieved by participation in a systematic program of learning experiences facilitated by selected members of OUT.  Bianca Bonner, EdM, Erin Bryce Holmes-Moran, MS, Shaness Kemp, MFA, and Jamie Shakur, MA represent the first cohort of Umfundalai teachers who earned their teaching credential through OUT’s autonomous efforts.  

     OUT’s regular programming developed until its next evolution four years later.  In 2017, OUT members, Josephine Heard Deans, C. Kemal Nance, PhD and Monique Walker filed for 501 C 3 status in efforts to transform OUT’s committee function into the work of non-profit organization.  In doing so, they branded the work National Association of American African Dance Teachers (NAAADT).  NAAADT’s name emerged from the need to have name recognition among the non-profit and dance sectors.  Moreover, NAAADT ‘s founders sought to use Umfundalai to bring together several African dance communities and to highlight the achievement of American-born artists who work in traditional, neo-traditional, and contemporary African dance forms.  Under this NAAADT’s infrastructure, OUT would still exist as a sub-committee of a larger mission to provide resources for American African dance teachers from multiple constituencies.  Upon its incorporation, NAAADT would then staff Umfundalai dance intensives with members of OUT, launch a series of virtual dance experiences throughout the shelter place brought on by the COVID 19 pandemic, and facilitate recreational and professional Umfundalai teachers’ training programs.

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Dancer: C. Kemal Nance

     As of 2023, NAAADT serves as an administrative headquarters for African dance programming. Primarily, its programming serves to heighten awareness of Umfundalai.   NAAADT seeks to expand its constituencies while still serving OUT.  OUT has taken on a new name that more accurately reflects its function within the organization.  Formerly used to describe a cadre of Umfundalai master teachers, the “Council of Umfundalai Teachers” now represents those members of NAAADT who have current Professional Umfundalai Teaching Licenses. In virtual ceremony on February 11, 2022, Shaness Kemp. MFA, and Cheryl Stevens, PhD became master teachers and Myrna Munchus, MFA became Umfundalai’s first “Senior Dance Mother.” These three women joined NAAADT’s efforts to reconstitute the former Council of Umfundalai Teachers.  The former “Council” dissolved upon the emergence of the Uongozi Leadership Circle on September 11, 2022 led by senior master teacher, C. Kemal Nance, PhD.  Comprised of Umfundalai professional and master teachers, Stafford C. Berry, Jr., MFA, Shaness Kemp, MFA, Myrna Munchus, C. Kemal Nance, PhD, Tabatha Robinson, EdM, Cheryl Stevens, PhD, Danzel Thompson-Stout, MFA, and Sheila Ward, PhD, the Uongozi Leadership Circle serves to advise NAAADT in its work with Umfundalai.  The purpose of this committee is to work collaboratively with Umfundalai’s Senior Master Teacher in the production of knowledge regarding Umfundalai practice, pedagogy, and scholarship.  The Uongozi Leadership Circle leads the “new” Council of Umfundalai Teachers in its efforts to heighten awareness and appreciation of Umfundalai and to ensure that NAAADT’s teacher training programming complies with the values and integrity developed by its progenitor.

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