What is Mandé, and why do people love it so much?

I first heard of Mandé when I went on a tour of Brown. Our tour guide told us it was one of the most popular classes and a must take for all students. I remember watching students practicing their steps through the halls of Keeney my freshman year, and I remember watching the final performance on what was then Lincoln Field (now Simmons Quad) on a beautiful day in May.

I always knew I had to take Mandé, but it wasn’t until I actually registered for the class this semester that I understood why it’s so beloved. So for all of those curious about this dance class that is more than a dance class, I’m here to tell you what Mandé is all about (warning: this class is ever-growing and changing — this post is only about what Mandé is like this year, some small structural things could change in future years).

Mandé is a Theater Arts and Performance Studies (TAPS) class with over 100 students that aims to teach both the dance styles and culture of the Mandé ethnic groups of Western Africa—Mali specifically. It’s more of a community than a class, and there is an innate bond that you form with those you meet who have taken Mandé. As Justin Harris ’15 told me of his experience when he took the class as a freshman:

It’s a class about expression and cultural enrichment. It gives a full view on liberal learning, as you learn with your mind and your body. It’s a class that tries to influence you beyond the bounds of education. It’s more than just a dance class; you get so much more out of it. More satisfaction.

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