Every Thursday at 6:30 p.m., the Aquatic and Fitness Center (AFC) begins filling up with the sound of African drumming.


This is not a typical dance class that everyone has experienced: it is Kukuwa.

Kukuwa Nuamah has been the African World Dance professor at Mason for the last seven years.

She started these classes at George Washington University in an effort to make a difference and open students’ eyes to a wider scope of African culture.

The classes at the AFC, as well as the credited class, teach students about Central, Western, Eastern and South African dance.

These dances originate from the hundreds of tribes in Africa. Each tribe has different languages, values and religions; these things reflect back in the differences of the dances.

Mason provides this dance class along with classes for other traditional dance genres, but this class can help anyone from dance majors to mathematics majors become better dancers.

“All types of genres take from African dance. The fundamentals of dance come from Africa,” Nuamah said.

Even if people are more concerned with getting a good workout than the dance aspect, Kukuwa is still a great class to take.

Unlike other dance classes, Kukuwa uses every part of the body. The head coordinates with arm movements while the legs also move, so people can use four to five components of their body at one time. It also works small and large muscle groups.

“People who work out all the time will still see a difference immediately,” Nuamah said. “People will come in and talk about how their neck muscles and other muscles they that usually don’t work out are already sore.”

Kukuwa is a good and fun workout, but also demanding. It will work every part of the body, even ones that seem to get left out in other workouts.

“If I am going to be working out, I want to be moving everything I got,” Nuamah said.

No matter the background or gender of a person, everyone should give either the hour-long class at the AFC or the credited class a try.

This semester’s class consists of males, females, Africans, Americans, Indians, Australians and people of many other backgrounds. Everyone is learning and getting an intense workout at the same time.

“I am all about education. Period. That is why people have to be certified to teach the class at the AFC. They have to be able to pass on what they learned about why the steps are being done or why they are dancing to a certain type of music,” Nuamah said.

Experienced or inexperienced, there is a class for everyone.

After trying the class at the AFC, people can decide if they want to learn more about Kukuwa.

There are 100-level classes for students who have no experience with African dance or 200 and 300-level classes for people who have some experience and are looking to delve deeper in the culture that goes along with the dancing.

If these classes hit home, then the next steps are getting certified and being able to teach classes either at the AFC or a local gym, or accompanying Nuamah on her study abroad program.

This 400-level credited class immerses students in the culture while they continue to learn about African dancing and drumming first hand.

Kukuwa is not just a great workout, but also a way to continue learning about places that people may never get to go to or get to fully understand otherwise.