Westport, N.Y. – Jeh Kulu, West African Dance and Drum Theater is coming to Westport Central School the week of March 5th for three afternoons to explore active movement through traditional rhythms and dances from the countries of Guinea, Senegal and Mali, West Africa thanks to a grant awarded to Reason2Smile and partners Westport Central and Jeh Kulu for their project titled The Story of Us.

Westport music staff saw a need for inclusive, natural movement for their students.  “As students reach the middle grades they become more sedentary and self-conscious about their bodies and their roles in community, so we sought out a way to help them experience natural, joyful movement which stimulates the brain, the heart, creativity, and our sense of each other in the community”, said Amy Nelson, Westport Central Music and Voice teacher.  “We also wanted to broaden their perspectives by reaching across boundaries more actively- county, park, cultures- because experience is the best learning, and learning is key to progress for all, as well as healing the divides in our communities, nation, and world.”

Jeh Kulu and the staff at Westport Central will work together to bring a blend of arts, story-telling and movement that they hope will create an indelible mark on their students and help them feel more access to movement in general.  Through this effort the music and arts staff hopes to familiarize their students to the traditions of West Africa and expand their ears, minds and perspectives. The visit with the students will culminate in student’s joining Jeh Kulu for a performance on March 9th at 2:00 PM in the schools auditorium which is free and open to the public.’

“This year our faculty and staff have been introduced to new and trending philosophies of education foundations to ensure our students are prepared for what the 21st century will offer them.  By hosting drum and dance group Jeh Kulu, Westport has a chance to welcome and celebrate diversity actively, both musically and culturally,” said Joshua Meyer, K-12 Principal at Westport Central.  “Through the study of music, all students develop knowledge and skills to prepare them to experience the power of music on human creativity.”

The Story of Us project was made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts. The Adirondack Diversity Initiative (ADI) provided matching funds.

If you can’t make the March 9th assembly at the school, Jeh Kulu will also be a headliner at the Adirondack Global Arts Festival March 10th-11th in Lake Placid.  “The Global Arts Festival was created with the purpose of promoting culturally diverse arts programming in the Adirondacks,” said Tammy Loewy, board member of Reason2Smile.   “We were excited to partner with Westport Central School on the This is us Project.  Having Jeh Kulu in the schools and then as part of the Festival was a unique way to expand our reach in the community.”  The Lake Placid Center for the Arts, Reason2Smile, Adirondack Diversity Initiative, John Brown Lives! and the Adirondack Film Society have collaborated to bring this festival to the communities of the Adirondacks.  You can learn more about this festival by visiting their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/ADKGLOBALARTSFEST/

For more information please email [email protected]