USM works out to new beat, Kukuwa
Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Updated: Sunday, May 17, 2009 19:05
A new beat that mixes the rhythms of South African and Latin music, is thumping at The University of Southern Mississippi's Payne Center.
Students looking for a unique style of exercise are trying the hip-shaking tribal motions of the Kukuwa Dance Workout taught by Southern Miss alumna Anna Sterling, assistant director for fitness at Southern Miss.
"It's so much fun, you don't even know you're working out," Sterling said, who is a certified Kukuwa dance instructor. "For me, it's about your own dance and having fun - feeling comfortable with yourself and your own body. It's a groove."
Kukuwa dancing was created by Kukuwa Nuamah at Virginia Tech University in 2004. Sterling brought the dance to Southern Miss after studying with Nuamah.
It means offering Southern Miss students a non-traditional dance style as a way to get fit by waking up the body through a mixture of arm gestures, bouncing, stomping, hip movement, clapping, marching and some chanting, when one feels "moved" to do so.
"One of my students said, 'hips aren't supposed to move like that'," said Sterling. "But they have to. It's about moving the body the way it has never been moved before."
For Rheo Morris, a student from St. Kitts Island in the Caribbean, Kukuwa dancing is a little bit of home away from home.
"The songs are very familiar," Morris said. "There's a lot of African-Spanish influence. It's more about gyrations, the music and how you feel about dancing at that time."
Southern Miss alumna Tyangala Bracey of Flowood said Kukuwa is a total body workout. "You're surprised in every class," she said. "The movements are what you feel and your interpretation of what she's doing."
Sterling said participants can expect to step outside their comfort zone for a new experience that teaches an appreciation of diversity. "This is about loving the body you're in," Sterling said. "Give it a try and learn to let go."
The Kukuwa Dance Workout will be held at 6:45 p.m. each Wednesday during the spring semester at the Southern Miss Payne Center. For more information, call 601.266.5405 or log on to usm.edu/recsports.