Up Classes in Phila. UAD STUDY GUIDE Type of Performances


WHERE:   Unity Community Center
home of Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble & Universal Pasha Karate School
                    1544 Mt. Ephraim Avenue
                    Camden, New Jersey 08104
                    (856) 365-1226 or (856) 365-4817

WHEN:      Every Wednesday and Special scheduled classes

TIME(s):    7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
                    (For ALL, especially beginners and intermediate members)
                    8:35 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (Advance members and Rehearsal)

FEE:          Non members or those who prefer not to register or join which is
                   excellent for those that want to exercise while learning African Dance
                   $10.00 per class and $20.00 for African LAPA

Dance Teachers & Instructors:
Left to Right /
Mama Wanda Dickerson-
Co-Founder & VP of International Affairs, Atiya Dickerson-Johnson- Artistic & Dance Director, Ronsha Dickerson,
                          Ayanna P. Dickerson, Sierra Pratt, Latisee Watson, Namibia EL, Byheijja Sabree, Kia Mathes, Bintou Diabate, Nejma Maddox & Yakira Watson

Drum Teachers & Instructors:
Left to Right / Robert Dickerson- Founder & CEO, Jamal P. Dickerson- Chief Choreographer & Artistic Director, Nasir P. Dickerson- Choreographer & Artistic Director,
Anwar Sabree, Hassan Sabree, Haki Pratt, Jamal P. Dickerson II, Aliseni Bangoura & Haki Pratt II

GUEST MEMBER: African Dance and Drum Classes only / $10.00 a class
HOME MEMBER:  Martial Arts (Karate) and African Dance & Drum Classes / $20.00 monthly for 17 and under / $25.00 monthly for Adults
GOLDEN MEMBER:  Martial Arts (Karate), African Dance and Drum Classes and Extra Programs such as
                                            Music, Drill Teams, Praise Dance and etc.
 Becoming a member of our Production Teams that
                                            performs and helps our organization raise funds for the programs

African LAPA'S made by Mama Wanda Dickerson call (856) 365-4817
New African LAPA or African wrapper/Wrap skirt/iro for FEMALES  at $20.00

DRUMS available for practice for the MALES

Not just in the month of February, but 365 days a year for
the rest of our lives.   
    Robert H. Dickerson

Traditions are preserved through dance and music, and we want to keep those traditions ALIVE.
Sayings by Baba Dr. Chuck Davis

Black on Black Crime, violence and hatred is the direct result of many African Americans or Black families being destroyed or dysfunctional in some form or another.  We must stress to all religious, community and educational institutions the value and importance of teaching our original culture, roots, heritage, history and love for one another, especially to our young people.  Remember what the Honorable Marcus Garvey said, "A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots."  When a person loves and appreciate who they are, they will respect themselves and others.

by Robert H. Dickerson

Our Mission:   To educate people about African Culture and history through music, art and the performing arts, especially African Dance and Drum.   In addition, we seek to instill pride, dignity and enhance the understanding of the African American experience in relationship to our African Heritage.


   All are welcome to learn from the best instructors in America.  The Universal African Dance & Drum Ensemble's teachers and officials have been taught by many great teachers from many countries in Africa.   We are known for our West African presentations, of Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone and more.   We have been blessed to have learned songs, dance and drum from a famous South African troupe called Thula Sizwe.   In 2007, Universal African Dance & Drum Ensemble also had the privilege to learn and perform with a wonderful group from KENYA, East Africa, called The Friends of Sironka African Dance Troupe.

   Les Ballet Africains members from West Africa (Guinea), has been our mentors, role-models, teachers and the group that we have modeled ourselves after  The Universal African Dance & Drum Ensemble presents a powerful, sensational, electrifying and educational performances and workshops for everyone and especially for African-Americans (black people) in America to easily appreciate their culture.

   The true value and cost of these traditional lessons are actually priceless.  However because of our love and concern for our heritage, culture and community, we realize in most situations, inner city families couldn't afford these lessons.  Under our non-profit organization (Unity Community Center) which is the parent organization to all of our discipline, cultural, music and educational programs, the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble and the Universal Pasha Karate School ask for a minimum suggested monthly donations or dues.

   Since our beginning in 1984, all of the programs including our Dance, Drum and Karate School have been responsible for teaching thousands of students.   No student was ever excluded from our programs because of not having the minimum suggested monthly dues.

WE THE DICKERSON FAMILY of teachers, our traditional African teachers and officials dedicate our time and our specialized teachings to low-income urban areas, where single parents may need the most help in the development of their children.



 The Universal African Dance & Drum Ensemble is honored to offer an open class weekly to people of all ages.  It is important for us to bridge the gap of culture from Africa to America. We hope that anyone who attends our class or becomes a member of our ensemble will receive more than the art of dance and drum, but also embrace the beauty of culture and family.  To study or perform African Dance and Drum requires discipline and dedication.

The African dance class offers children and adults a forty-five minute combination or full hour of one dance curriculum. In this curriculum we urge all students to attend every class to excel to next level.  We recommend that all students start at the novice level and encompass the style, technique and energy from the class before they are advanced.

Beginner /Novice Class:

This class is a great step into the beauty of African Dance.  The class concentrates on the fundamentals of the style of African Dancing.  In this class the instructors will teach the importance of stretching and warming up, the relationship of dancing and drumming, the importance of the drum break and dance drills.  In our curriculum we stress the importance of the students learning about the origin of different dances and how each region of Africa has different styles of dance.  This class is ideal for anyone with little or no experience.  Students generally start in this class and remain until they are able complete the given curriculum.  It usually takes about 3-6 months of consistent participation before an instructor recommends to the teacher to move to the next level

Intermediate Class:

This class is a little more intense.  The student should be able to execute the beginning classes’ curriculum, identify and demonstrate three or more dances and rhythms, show the ability to work collectively with the novice students and dance alone/solo with drummers to show the importance of dancer and drummer relations.  In this class proper technique, speed, agility and complexity are fundamental to prepare for advancement.

Advanced Class:

This class is very intense, requiring both technical ability and strength. The student is preparing for performance level and should be able to instruct a novice class as well as know the curriculum from novice to intermediate level and creatively solo to curriculum based African Rhythms.  From this class the instructors are more critical on energy level, knowledge of rhythms dances and basic fundamentals of lower level classes.  The students will be expected to creatively choreograph a 5minuite dance presentation.   This class is generally designed for students with many years of training and involved in the total UCC Performing Arts Programs.

 Dress Code:

African dancing is more about spirit than physicality.  We like for all students to show personality in dancing as well as developing your own personal energy.  Dress code is important to obtain the best in your development. Baggy clothes, street clothes, socks, and shoes are not permitted.  Dance shoes are optional please keep in mind the African dance is a natural art of dance so we generally rehearse and perform barefoot, unless special circumstances. 


Lapa (wraps around waist with two strings to tie together)

Normal size T-shirt (not too big/too small. Comfy enough to observe body placement)

Dance Leotards / any color long or knee length (Black is preferred)

Dance shoes (optional)

Sports bra (if needed)

Note - On cool days, sweat shirts or long sleeve shirt may be worn in class during warm up only. On hot days we recommend you carry more than one t-shirt.


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dance (from French danser, perhaps from Frankish) is an art form that generally refers to movement of the body, usually rhythmic and to music,[1] used as a form of expression, social interaction or presented in a spiritual or performance setting. Dance is also used to describe methods of non-verbal communication (see body language) between humans or animals (bee dance, patterns of behaviour such as a mating dance), motion in inanimate objects (the leaves danced in the wind), and certain musical forms or genres. In sports, gymnastics, figure skating and synchronized swimming are dance disciplines while martial arts kata are often compared to dances.

Definitions of what constitutes dance are dependent on social, cultural, aesthetic, artistic and moral constraints and range from functional movement (such as folk dance) to virtuoso techniques such as ballet. Dance can be participatory, social or performed for an audience. It can also be ceremonial, competitive or erotic. Dance movements may be without significance in themselves, such as in ballet or European folk dance, or have a gestural vocabulary/symbolic system as in many Asian dances. Dance can embody or express ideas, emotions or tell a story.

Dancing has evolved many styles. Breakdancing and Krumping are related to the hip hop culture. African dance is interpretive. Ballet, Ballroom, Waltz, and Tango are classical styles of dance while Square and the Electric Slide are forms of step dances.

Every dance, no matter what style, has something in common. It not only involves flexibility and body movement, but also physics. If the proper physics is not taken into consideration, injuries can and are likely to occur.

Choreography is the art of creating dances. The person who creates (i.e., choreographs) a dance is known as the choreographer.

Ethnochoreology, encompassing the dance-related aspects of anthropology, cultural studies, gender studies, area studies, postcolonial theory, ethnography, etc

African Dance is the original dance (The first dance)

African Dance and Drum are a marriage.
In African Culture, FAMILY is Paramount.
A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.  (Honorable Marcus Garvey)
"We must display and be the beauty, righteousness and love of our culture." 
(Robert Dickerson)




The peculiar qualities impressed by nature or habit on a person, which distinguish him from others; hence, a character is not formed when the person has not acquired stable and distinctive qualities.  The pattern of behavior or personality found in an individual or group; moral constitution

The pattern of behavior or personality found in an individual or group; moral constitution. Moral strength; self-discipline, fortitude, good reputation.


Accompany- to go or be together with: attend 2. To sent (with); add to ; supplement (to accompany words with acts) 3. To play or sing a musical accompaniment for or to

Accompaniment- anything that accompanies something else: thing added, usually for order or symmetry 2. Music a part, usually instrumental, performed together with the main part for richer effect ( the piano accompaniment to a song)

Accompanist- a person who plays or sings an accompaniment:

Attract- (1) to draw to itself or oneself; make approach or adhere (2) to get the admiration, attention, etc. of;

attraction- (1) the act of attracting (2) power of attracting; esp., charm or fascination (3) anything that attract or is meant to attract / movies are sometimes called attractions