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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Moving and Shaking at Tchaka Night

The dancers celebrate the theme of transition during the fourth annual Tchaka Night, sponsored by the Haitian American Society. - Photo by Dena Capano
The dancers celebrate the theme of “transition” during the fourth annual Tchaka Night, sponsored by the Haitian American Society. – Photo by Dena Capano

“Break walls of ignorance. Freedom, freedom!” chanted one of the performers at the fourth annual Tchaka Night, which packed the Snowden Auditorium Saturday night, April 17. Named for a soup made from an assortment of vegetables, beans, and rice, Tchaka Night embodied the spirit of the dish with a unique mix of dancing, music, and Haiti’s past, present and future.

Prior to the show, UMB’s Haitian American Society (HAS) reminded the audience of Haiti’s current upheaval, marked by street violence and economic turmoil. Appropriately, the theme of the evening was “Transition,” reflecting the movement of people from Africa, to Haiti, to the United States, and also the changes taking place in Haiti now. Performances ranged from traditional African dance and contemporary hip-hop to poetry and even tae kwon do.

To make this transition come alive, the West Roxbury Haitian Society performed “Heroes and Heroines of Haiti’s Past,” where the performers recreated slavery in Haiti. Four women emerged from backstage wearing white robes and knelt to the ground while a man appeared and covered them with the Haitian flag. Another man spoke to the audience, “Slavery in Haiti was as cruel and unjust as in the U.S.!” Each of the women took turns describing an experience in slavery, some using the native French-based Haitian Creole language.

To paint the traditional Haitian culture part of the picture, the Tchaka Night Dancers showed the audience some dance moves. Beautiful women dancers dressed in tan skirts reminiscent of grass delighted the audience with their sexy moves set to music heavy with drum and bass, approaching reggae style. The dancing was mostly shaking to the music and thrusting hips.

Following the night’s theme of transition were the hip-hop dancers, introduced as “Gymnastics.” They blew the crowd away, sporting matching black and red outfits, quick moves, and a split as a finishing touch. Both the traditional and modern dances of the evening reflected how Haitian culture is kept alive through music and dance.

Fredson Gomes, UMB student and tae kwon do champion, is the first Cape Verdean to make it to the Olympics. He and his partner “Lil’ Man” showed the crowd some moves. In addition to dances, tae kwon do moves, and skits, there were also poetry and reggae performers.

Tchaka Night was sponsored by UMB’s Haitian American Society, the Black Student Center, Casa Latina, and the Women’s Center. The new campus center Ballroom hosted an after party from 9pm-1am.