Western African dance class takes off in area’s most-diverse suburb

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PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — The rhythm of Western African beats are pulsing through one Pflugerville dance studio.

Dance Instructor Eva Ratti said the music and the moves take her back home to the Ivory Coast, Africa.

“Give me some energy,” she said to a group of dancers, motivating them to move more at the Lonestar Dance Center.

Ratti created the dance class called Ye Zi. It means “let’s dance” in the Nzima language.

“When [participants] hear about African music, it’s usually the live drums and the traditional part,” Ratti said. “The difference here is we’re using urban dances and music that people don’t get to hear about.”

Ratti only started her dance class a couple of months ago, and attendance is growing.

“You’re able to move around and make it your own. And, it’s OK if you mess up,” said Ayanna Rutagengwa, an 11-year-old dance student in the class.

Dina Davis joined to learn more about her husband’s culture, who is from the Ivory Coast. Another reason why she shows up every Friday is the heart-pumping workout the moves provide.

“I absolutely hate cardio,” Davis said. “So if you’re going to do cardio, you need to do something fun. And, this is a lot of fun.”

Ratti says many people expect to see this kind of dance in Austin. But, she believes the cultural connection is perfect for Pflugerville, which is one of Central Texas’s most diverse suburbs, according to the US Census Bureau.

“It’s basically trying to expose people to other cultures through music and dance,” said the instructor. “But, also get a great workout and relieve stress.”

The Ye Zi dance class is every Friday night between 7 and 8 p.m. at the Lonestar Dance Center, 2606 W. Pecan Street, in Pflugerville.

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