New professor teaches African culture through dance

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    Classes usually begin when an instructor scans the class roster and calls out names. After that, students bury themselves in textbooks or copy notes from a PowerPoint.

    One new class at TCU takes a different approach.

    Every Tuesday and Thursday morning in Erma Lowe Hall, after attendance is taken in African Dance: Learning African Culture through Dance, drums immediately begin playing.

    "There are no textbooks," adjunct professor and professional dancer Jennifer Hobson-Benton said.

    Taking attendance is one of the only similarities between this class and others at the university, Hobson-Benton said. The aim of her course is to teach African culture through the art of West African dance.

    Students are expected to dress in traditional African garments to create a true cultural experience, Hobson-Benton said. Students go out and choose their own fabrics for the traditional costumes and then learn how to tie them properly.

    Hobson-Benton said she is looking for a high level of endurance in her students and will quiz the class on dance memorization.

    "I teach them the culture along with the dancing because African dance is culture. It's a way of life," she said.

    Hobson-Benton, a new professor at the university, said she is excited to be a part of the the Horned Frog family.

    “TCU has an absolutely outstanding, renowned dance department known for their classical ballet training and their modern technique," she said. "They also have many seasoned and professional teachers.”

    Senior theater major Sophie Smith said she is expanding her dance repertoire with this new course.

    “I usually take ballet every semester and I heard this was going to be a new class, something they wanted to try out. I thought it would be fun,” she said.