A woman gracefully lifts a cloth as pulsating drums encourage her hips and feet to move rapidly. Her undulating body becomes a flow of movement and color. She is performing Mojah, a dance technique that fuses Horton, Dunham, jazz and West African dance. This month, Penn State University hosts the eighth annual Mojah Fusion Dance Festival, July 28–31.
Terrie Ajile Axam began creating Mojah over 25 years ago and has since taught and choreographed in her signature style for her company, Total Dance/Dancical Productions Inc., and in and around her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. Mojah is a celebration of Axam’s identity as an African-American woman. “I am grateful for the legacy of pioneers before me, especially Katherine Dunham, who make my work possible,” she says.
PSU’s festival celebrates artists, like Axam, whose creative work integrates multiple cultural or artistic elements. Master classes, open to all levels, incorporate Dunham, West African, contemporary, Carib-funk and hip hop in addition to Mojah. The event also offers workshops and performances by students, university faculty and guest artists, including Axam and her daughter Kikora Franklin, who teaches Mojah in PSU’s dance department. Info: www.dance.psu.edu