Support Traditional Liberian Dance

$2,000 goal

Campaign created 11 months ago
“Please tell my people I’m gone”. Those were Emmanuel Lavelah’s last words to someone he recalls meeting at the port before his departure from Liberia to Sierra Leone in 1990. Liberia’s president Samuel Doe had recently been captured and the threads of the country’s precariously woven fabric were beginning to unravel. War was on the horizon. Emmanuel had made up his mind to not be left behind by his older brothers who had been planning to leave their mother in his care. At the mere age of 18, Emmanuel arrived in a new land alone. “Sometimes when anything is part of you, and you reach to a new area, you want to remember where you come from”.

Dance had been a part of Emmanuel’s life since he was young. In 1998, Lavelah’s life as a refugee continued on in Ghana where he became involved in the Liberian Cultural Center there participating in and choreographing dance pieces for everything to state functions to local performances when Liberian cultural exhibitions were requested. It was through the Liberian Cultural Center, that SLAD Liberia was born, the School of Liberian Art and Dance. While in Budumburam Refugee Camp in Ghana, Lavelah and others realized there were NGOs & Volunteers who also took a keen interest in the beautiful Liberian cultural dances that they observed and were eager to learn it. In 2007, Lavelah returned to Liberia with a desire to continue SLAD. Now, 10 years later he is the lead instructor of regular Saturday classes at the Monrovia Health and Wellness Center. In a studio overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Lavelah and his team of dancers and drummers cheerily expose those interested to the traditional cultural dances of Liberia. His vision for SLAD is to be eventually and fully recognized as a registered school where people can come to learn and experience traditional Liberian dance and music, while also connecting with public schools as a way to reinstill pride and knowledge of a culture most have been disconnected from due to years of instability and urban migration. Lavelah himself, a lifelong learner, whose journey throughout West Africa in itself is a testament to his perseverance and passion for preserving the culture, would also like to build a body of research on Liberian dance as an institution over the years.

In the meantime, Lavelah continues to dance and share his craft with any one who is willing to rock their hips, jump in jubilee and dance to the energetic drum rhythms of the SLAD Liberia team.
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$2,000 goal

Campaign created 11 months ago
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