Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe

Kukatonon student performing slider dance. (Photo Credit: kukatonondancetroupe.com/)

Kukatonon student performing slider dance.
(Photo Credit: kukatonondancetroupe.com/)

Michael Hulshof-Schmidt of Social Justice for All is reporting that the annual Annual Gala of the Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe will take place on February 14.

The Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Group is geared towards instilling confidence in African American youth so that they are capable of facing life’s hurdles.

The Kúkátónón organization was founded by Liberian native Rolia Manyongai-Jones, an educator who brought her dreams of sharing the rich culture and history that she was well versed in during her childhood in Liberia with her American counterparts to fruition. It was Rolia’s hope that her dream would be shared with “white America, black America, and multicultural America.

The Founder of the Kúkátónón Organization Liberian Native Rolia Manyongai-Jones performing dance. (Photo Credit: http://www.opb.org)

The Founder of the Kúkátónón Organization Liberian Native Rolia Manyongai-Jones performing dance.
(Photo Credit: http://www.opb.org)

Rolia Manyongai-Jones uses the arts to teach and promote the importance of  heritage, social justice, health, and teamwork African American youth in Portland, Ore.Michael Hulshof-Schmidt of Social Justice for All writes that the mission of Kúkátónón is to:

“to inspire confidence, commitment and vitality among the children in the dance troupe; and to broaden awareness of African and African American cultural traditions throughout Oregon.”

The dance troupe instills confidence, promotes pride, and looks to build respect for differences and similarities across cultures.

The troupes broader objectives include: offering participants a pursuit that inspires happiness and self confidence, increase body awareness and physical health of participants, improve participants ability to work as committed members of a team, teach participants the value of diligent practice in all of life’s pursuits, and to improve school attendance and performance of participants.

Using a holistic approach the Kúkátónón organization  addresses the need of Portland’s black youth by addressing the need of after school programs and changing racial disparities through the use of dance, drumming, culture, art, and identity. In an effort to keep youth safe and engaged the Kúkátónón has created after school programs that engage children in enriching activities while giving parents a peace of mind.

It has been proven that programs like  Kúkátónón’ after school program cultivate “improved social and emotional outcomes such as decreased depression and anxiety, reduction in risky behaviors, and improved health and wellness.”

Currently, the troupe is entirely composed of members that are African, African American or multi-racial. All the dancers and most of the drummers are girls. It is estimated that around 80% of the members are from low-income families.

The Annual Gala of the Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe will take place on February 14.

This post was written by Reginald Calhoun, editorial assistant for The Burton Wire. He is a junior Mass Media Arts major at Clark Atlanta University. Follow him on Twitter @IRMarsean.

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