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Montgomery College Excalibur

The Student News Site of Montgomery College

Montgomery College Excalibur

The Student News Site of Montgomery College

Montgomery College Excalibur

Journey from Takoma Park to the Caribbean through Dance

The dance studio came alive with the sound of music in late March as MC students embarked on a journey to the Caribbean through song and dance earlier this semester.

The Caribbean Dance Workshop, hosted by the Office of Student Life, took center stage at Montgomery College TPSS’s Cultural Arts Center on March 29.

Dancers Julia Ostlund, Cassie Chew, Simret Aleligne, Henri Francisca Ndjocke, and Fenet Shertaga (left to right) practicing the dance move “row the boat” taught during the Caribbean Dance Workshop. (Photo credit, Jasjeet Kaur Upal)

Student Life Student Coordinator Fenet Shertaga said the workshop was one of their signature events and a good way to destress.

“We’re in the middle of the semester, and I know everybody is a little bit tired, but this is the time when you can relax and learn about the [Caribbean] culture,” said Shertaga.

Certified Health Coach and Dance Instructor Crystal Medina provided an overview of Trinidadian, Tobagonian, and Jamaican cultures, and participants performed choreography from the two nations.

“I’m originally from the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago,” said Medina. “I’ve been dancing since I was a child. Living in New York for a while, I started doing a dancehall aerobics class and taught dance workshops for over seven years. Caribbean dance is all about self-expression; it’s about freedom, understanding your body, and being in tune with your body. Even with their dance steps, everyone puts their own flavor and style on it.”

Medina said she tries to make steps as simple as possible so everyone can follow and hopes participants will be comfortable.

“It’s a great way to self-express and build community and connectivity,” she said. “It’s not going to look like me; it’s not going to look like someone else; just do the best you can and follow along.”

Sophomore Francisca Ndjocke, an information science major, has prior dancing experience, but the workshop was her first experience with Caribbean dance.

The crew, Cassie Chew, Julia Ostlund, Henri Francisca Ndjocke, Spencer Augustin, Susan Rodgers, Simret Aleligne, and Fenet Shertaga (left to right) getting ready for a Grand Finale performance during the Caribbean dance workshop held in the Cultural Arts Centre. (Photo credit, Jasjeet Kaur Upal)

“I always loved dancing,” Ndjocke said. “I was feeling a little bit down lately, so I was like, ‘Let me just go for fun’ because I was so stressed with school.”

The event emphasized Montgomery College’s representation of over 125 countries, placing importance on cultural diversity and inclusivity through engagement.

Shertaga shared her insights on the representation of various countries within the MC student body and highlighted how this diversity enriches the campus experience, fostering a sense of global community.

“As some of us may not be familiar with Caribbean culture, I hope they really learn a lot about the culture, what the flags are, some dance moves, and, of course, to have fun. You don’t need to be from the Caribbean to have a great experience of [the workshop],” Shertaga said.

Medina stressed that learning culture through dance fosters empathy and facilitates connections and expressed her desire for participants to experience decreased self-judgment, increased sense of self-bonding, and deeper self-connection through dancing in the workshop and beyond.

“[Dance] is a way to bridge different ethnicities, races, and religions just to connect with each other in a way that’s freeing and in a non-judgmental way,” she said.

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About the Contributors
Ash Ibasan
Ash Ibasan, Staff Writer
Ash Ibasan has been a staff writer for the Excalibur since the spring 2024 semester. Alongside pursuing a double major in architecture and computer science, she volunteers her time outside of academia to tutor English to ESL students in conversation and writing. In her downtime, you’ll see her winding down with video games, immersing in the local culture during her travels abroad, and delving into her passion for hockey.  
Jasjeet Kaur Upal
Jasjeet Kaur Upal, Photographer
Jas is majoring in Communication and Journalism at MC. She joined The Excalibur in the Spring of 2024 as a photographer & marketer. Starting in Fall 2024, she will be the Assistant Editor.

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