Markus teaching at The 92nd Street Y's Harkness Dance Center. Photo courtesy of The Ailey School

In Andrea Markus' West African class at The Ailey School in New York City, listening is just as important as moving. “My goal is to get them to really listen for what makes each rhythm distinct," she says. As her 7- to 8-year-old students sing, hear the drummer and then dance the steps, they become familiar with two to three djembe rhythms each year. “If you break it down and repeat it every week, the things they can do by the end of the year are impressive," Markus says.

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