Villanova’s Wazobia African Dance Company dares you to sit still during one of its performances. When the music starts—maybe an infectious Afrobeat song or just a driving drumbeat—a dozen or so dancers enter in perfect unison, legs fluid, arms rhythmic and powerful. They move with the kind of precision that comes with hours of practice, but they perform with the joy that comes from friendship, community and out-and-out fun.
Founded in 2012, the dance company chose the name Wazobia, combining syllables from three different Nigerian dialects that all mean “come.” Everything the company does, from open-door workshops to high-energy performances at basketball games, charity events and dance showcases, is designed to be inclusive.
Members represent a wide variety of backgrounds—both in dance experience and cultural roots—so the student-choreographed numbers often fuse traditional African styles with step, modern, hip-hop and other movement that originated across the African diaspora.
“While we are a dance group, we try to form relationships with everyone on campus, from Athletics to academic departments to other student organizations,” says student co-President Karol Pierre ’19 COE. “We love to interact with students, faculty, alumni—anyone who wants to share our diverse cultures and roots through the experience of dance.”
Her co-leader, Opeyemi Famakinwa ’19 CLAS, puts it this way: “When people see us dancing by the Oreo, they might say, ‘I can’t dance!’ but our answer is, ‘Sure, you can!’ You can come to a Wazobia workshop, learn a new way to move and through that, you learn a little about our culture.”
Did You Know?
Averaging eight to 10 performances a semester, Wazobia members practice for two hours, twice a week, all year long.