The Woods Hole Community Hall, an 1878 wooden building in the center of this historic fishing village, is an unlikely mecca for African dance. But professional African dancer, Tara Murphy loves teaching here because her enthusiastic students and great sense of community.
Murphy has a long history with Afro centric culture, starting with her own biracial heritage. She later earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in theater and religious studies at Yale, where she also delved into African dance.
Her great interest in African culture lead her to study traditional dance and drumming in Ghana, West Africa. Murphy’s studies did not stop there – she has worked with teachers in Washington, D.C., Boston, and New York City.
Throughout her career, Murphy has danced with many companies with whom she has performed with around the globe. However, upon moving to Cape Cod in 2002, Murphy created her own group, “Cape Cod African Dance and Drum,” after meeting professional “African rhythm” drummers.
Their group offers drumming and traditional West African (Ghana, Guinea, Mali, and Haiti) dancing classes all over the Cape for all levels. Four classes remain in Woods Hole this summer — June 22nd and 29th and August 14th and 21st. You don’t want to miss them either – watching the class made me want to jump in and give it a try!
For Murphy, the “organic movements” of the dance emphasize the sense of community the dance brings as well as the dance’s ability to balance energies.
Murphy stated, “The ancient dance opens up the body and mind which really heals the individuals and the community… Because we now connect so verbally through the Internet, we miss the non-verbal interactions that are so needed. By dancing the community comes together and is able to connect in a non-verbal way.”
Murphy’s infectious smile reflects her absolute love of the dance and her students. As the class ended, everyone gathered around Murphy to thank her and give her a hug as they slowly filtered out. The spirit of the group was completely appropriate for a building named “Community Hall.”
For more information, check out their website: capecodafricandanceanddrum.com