Cultural Immersion

Cultural Immersion


That’s our friend Diadie Bathily leading fourth graders in African dance in P.E. at Forsyth.


For two weeks in PE class, Forsyth students in Junior-K – Grade 6 study African dance with Diadie Bathily, Artistic Director of Afriky Lolo. (That banner above was a gift handmade in the Côte d’Ivoire, Mr. Bathily's native country.)  A study of African drumming, taught by Andrew Behnen who works with Mr. Bathily, has been running in music class concurrently with the dance classes.  This is the eighth year Mr. Bathily has taught African dance at Forsyth.  The students learn about African culture, rhythm, syncopation with the music and a group. Did we mention that it’s also a great cardio workout that requires core strength? See a slideshow of African dance.


Although we put African dance on the calendar, if you’re on campus, you don’t need a calendar. If you’re out on the playground near New House, you can hear the percussive rumble most of the day coming from the music room. African drumming. In the gym, the music and dance happen all day. You can’t miss it. It’s a cross-curricular, cultural immersion.


At Forsyth the African dance unit in P.E. has become a tradition, almost a rite of passage like so many things at Forsyth: moving from house to house as you get older, May Day dances, Challenge Days culminating in the high beam in sixth grade. As a child progresses through the grades, there’s a new dance to perform. Younger kids watch what the older kids are doing and set their sights on milestones to come. 

Add the parents to that equation. At the end of the two weeks of African dance, parents are invited to join us in P.E. class for a demonstration of dance and culture. Mr. Bathily invites the parents to join the class with their children. He asks the kids to teach their parents the moves. African dance has become a family tradition at Forsyth.


In the winter, we focus on ballroom dance in P.E. That’s another story.

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