On Sunday, October 5th, ASYV’s traditional dance team, Isheja Dance Troupe, competed at the national level. Isheja has received notable acclaim over the past few years and has long been considered a fierce competitor throughout Rwanda. This year, Isheja won first place at the regional level and at their performance on Sunday placed them 4th in the country - an amazing accomplishment! Leading up to the national competition, the Isheja Troupe practiced three times per week at two-hour intervals. The drums that make up the beat seemed to be playing non-stop as supporters cheered on the dancers throughout every rehearsal. There are 50 dancers within Isheja, while only 20 perform at competitions. Among them are Senior 6 (12th grade) student Claudine Ingabire of the Julius Nyerere Family and Senior 5 (11th grade) student Peter Mugengana of the John Locke Family.  

Claudine has been dancing since the age of seven and says that she remembers twirling around even when she was in primary school. Claudine has competed with Isheja since she arrived at the Village in 2010. Although her time with Isheja has come to an end, Claudine will continue to dance wherever she is. It’s part of who she is. 

Peter came to ASYV without a background in traditional dance but decided to try it out for fun upon arriving in the Village. It turned out that Peter had a knack for the rhythm, and even though it is only his second year dancing, he has performed twice at the national level receiving second and fourth place finishes. Peter was so enthusiastic about Isheja that he encouraged six of his brothers in the John Locke family to join the team. 

Please watch this video to hear more about Claudine and Peter’s passion for dancing and to witness the grace that is ASYV’s Isheja Dance Troupe. Enjoy!      

Blog submitted by Sasha Friedman, 2014 Village Fellow

Video submitted by Ari Beser, 2014 Village Fellow