In the heart of Brooklyn, a studio named Shambala is the joint for lovers of Congolese dance taught by Funmilayo Chesney, the founder of Fusha Dance company. In this video by AfricanSpotlight, Funmilayo explained how Congolese dance can help lose weight, cure diseases, and much more.
Congolese Dance originated in Central Africa. Incidentally the movements which constitute Congolese Dance are generally focused on the center of the body. It is in the mid-section of the body that both the digestive and reproductive organs are housed. This is probably why the movements associated with Congolese Dance or any dance that has a focus on the mid-section of the body, are healing and along with a change in diet will help combat reproductive disorders such as fibroids, ovarian cysts, irregular cycles as well as disorders of the prostate. The movements increase the flow of oxygen and blood in the body’s mid-section, which aids the body in the prevention of disease.
Many modern dances we know of today have their roots in Congolese Dance. Some of the dances that have their roots from the Congo are the Lambada, Samba, Salsa, Merengue, Calypao, Reggae, Soca, Afro-Caribbean and “Belly Dancing”. Congolese Dance is among “our” medicines, it is a dance filled with healing vibrations and pelvic rotations.
Funmilayo was born in Brazil and grew up in Guyana. Funmilayo traveled extensively to Nigeria and Ghana, where she lived and studied dance for three years. She also visited the Congo – the motherland of her ancestors.
In 1987 to 1992 she was a member of the only traditional Congolese dance company in New York City, Malaki MA Congo. Funmilayo have been teaching Congolese Dance for close to 20 years in New York City and is the director of F.U.S.H.A. Dance Company founded in 1995. In 1996 she won the Ethnic Dance Award for best African dance instructor.
Funmilayo has also studied Ballet, Modern, Tap, Sabar, Guinean, Haitian, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian, Dahome, and Dunham. She is employed by the Department of Education where she teaches ethnic dance to pre k through 12th grades in the artist in residence program.
Funmilayo realized that the ancient dance of the Congolese people, combined with the genius creations of their descendants have shaped the musical culture of many music and dance styles in the diaspora i.e., Samba, Salsa, Hip Hop, Reggae, Calypso, Cassav, Jazz, Hawaiian, Belly Dance, the Electric Slide, and even Michael Jackson’s “Moonwalk.” She became inspired to form Fusha Dance Company to empower and educate people on the healing powers of dance and to celebrate the richness of dance and culture from Africa and the diaspora.
Congolese dance is a healing dance that Funmilayo refers to as “medicine dance” movements for healing the womb and prostate through music vibrations ad pelvic rotation.
To know more about Funmilayo’s company, visit her website.