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October's First Thursdays Festival showcases an African-American dance group


Members of the IU African American Dance Ensemble perform Oct. 3 at the October First Thursdays Festival near Showalter Fountain. The festival featured food trucks, poetry and a film viewing. Izzy Myszak

The First Thursdays Festival took place from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 3 in the Fine Arts Plaza and has been running for the past three years at IU. It takes place on a monthly basis, weather permitting. 

“The talent at this school seriously blows me away,” said Hannah Crane, the events and communications specialist for the African American Arts Institute. Crane has been working with the AAAI at IU for the past two years. 

Crane was one of the people to implement this celebratory amalgamation of the arts since she herself had wished there was more diversity than CultureFest, which takes place at the beginning of the year.

“It really celebrates the diversity at IU-Bloomington,” Crane said. “You see all types of people here, all types of creative expression, and I think it really is just a celebration of what makes IU special and our community special.”

Colors were abundantly littered throughout the festival, which was especially apparent in the outfits of the extroverted and jovial dance ensemble African American Dance Company. Crane was once a member of the group while she was a journalism undergrad at IU and now manages it. 

Any type of person willing to learn can join the group and appreciate the customary, cultural dance traditions and practices they teach. The director of the group, professor Stafford C. Berry Jr., teaches in IU's Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance and has experience in musical theater and dancing. These aspects were infused into the group's performance at the First Thursdays Festival.

“It is such a wonderful day, and we hope that you take this little bit of joy, this little bit of inspiration, these rhythms right here, the dancing that you experienced today and share it with somebody,” Berry said. 

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