News: Penn State University Celebrates Mojah

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:

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"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

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Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

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This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

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