This past weekend, I finally got to visit Onawa, one of El Paso’s latest holistic hubs. It’s located across from Joe Vinny & Bronsons Bohemian Café on 801 N. Piedras.
I’ve been meaning to stop by for some yoga and meditation, but what urged me to go this time around was the fact that the West African Drum and Dance group moved their classes to the venue.
On Sunday, March 26, they brought Soriba Fofana, a master drummer and musician from Guinea, Conakry in West Africa.
I first took a West African dance class in 2012 during a series of workshops hosted by a group called Mujeres de la Tierra. At first, I felt awkward attempting to make these low crouching, wavy arm movements reminiscent of birds and lions. As the symbolism behind the movements was explained to me, I tried to get over my insecurity and just enjoy the choreography. Before I knew it, I got lost in the beat of the drums, and by the end of the session, it felt as if all the stress from the week melted off my body.
Locals Susie Aquilina, Erik Hickerson and Hannah Passero helped bring the classes to El Paso by inviting instructors from Africa to lead workshops. Initially, they were inspired by similar sessions held in Las Cruces. They then took what they learned to continue El Paso’s drum and dance sessions, which have graced the floors of the Shundo Ballroom Dance Studio, Glasbox and now Onawa.
When Sorbina signed a CD I bought from him, he wrote “wassa,” which translates to “happy” in Susu, one of the many languages of West Africa. That’s the exact feeling I left with after the two-hour dance workshop. I can only imagine how I would have felt if I also took the drumming portion!
Sorbina taught us a full moon dance called “Kuku” and “Sinte,” a dance for the strong. The soreness I feel today is just a reminder of the fun I had that beautiful afternoon.
It was a cool coincidence when I noticed a flyer by one of our guest columnists, Sol Ballard. A life coach, she plans on having one of her first workshops at Onawa this Saturday, April 1. It’s a vision board party plus a goal setting workshop. So, what’s a vision board?
“It’s a visual representation of the feelings and tangible things you want to create in your life,” Sol explained. “The pictures that you’re supposed to put on there are meant to evoke feelings, so I always tell people, “Hey, pick pictures that speak to you.” Part of working with your beliefs is working with your subconscious mind.”
It looks like I need to make a lot more trips to Onawa! I could always add more positivity to my life. If you’re interested in any of the things I mentioned, type “West African Drum and Dance El Paso, TX” on Facebook and find Sol Ballard at facebook.com/SolBallard. You can also reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.