Experiencing African style

Allison Declercq-Matthäs, Contributor Ω

Jacky Essombe singing and dancing with her audience on March 21 in the Clock Tower Alumni Theatre. Behind her Yoro Noukoussi, Nawcro Franco and Josiane-Laure Nodjom accompany the performance.- PHOTO BY ALLISON DECLERCQ-MATTHAS

Jacky Essombe singing and dancing with her audience on March 21 in the  Alumni Theatre. Behind her Yoro Noukoussi, Nawcro Franco and Josiane-Laure Nodjom accompany the performance.
– PHOTO BY ALLISON DECLERCQ-MATTHAS

Jacky Essombe greeted the crowd with a grin in the Clock Tower’s Alumni Theatre on Thursday, March 21. With Yoro Noukoussi, Nawcro Franco and Josiane-Laure Nodjom accompanying her on stage, Essombe began to dance — the African way. Prompting the audience to show some energy, she handed out an array of imaginary fruit to the crowd, hoping to liven it up.

“So these are coconuts,” she said as she motioned tossing fruit to audience members. “Be careful.”

After showing the crowd how to trill out (a vocalization) their joy as they do in Africa, Essombe moved into sharing various dances and songs.

“Nobody goes, nobody leaves, bar the doors!” she shouted as she motioned for the audience to stand and dance.

Using Zangaléwa, a popular song familiar to audience members through Shakira’s “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa),” but originally created by a band in Cameroon, Essombe strung the performance together.

“Maybe sometimes we had to pull you by the ear,” she said near the end of the show. “But we are so proud to share our culture.”

She was born in Cameroon and later moved to Paris where she was shocked to find that people are less comfortable with dancing. She relates dancing to getting acquainted with people.

“When I see a group dancing, I can see if they get along,” she said. “Now we have different dances, but originally it was a way to get to know people.”

Essombe said she was used to the lack of dancing by the time she moved to Vancouver.

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