Niabinji: A Night of Expression

The African Women’s Alliance (AWA) at New Paltz hosted its 31st annual Niabinji event in the Student Union Multipurpose Room on Sunday, Oct. 30.

According to Danielle Ladson, president of AWA and fourth-year business administration major, Niabinji is an African term for celebration, self-expression and dance. It translates to “Night of Expression.”

Each year AWA holds this event, which includes singing, dancing, rap, poetry, guitar and drums.

“The event consists of a variety of performers showing us their talents and what kind of defines them as a person,” said Ladson. “Everyone expresses themselves in several different ways in more than just one and there is a reasoning behind each and every performance.”

There were performances from Culture Shock, Shades, Jamasia, the Glee Club, the Warriors, New Day Ensemble, Urban Lyrics and Nachle New Paltz. Ladson said they have an ever-growing performance base each year and hope to have new faces and clubs every time — this year they had more than 15 acts.

“Each person who comes up brings something exciting every time,” said Ladson.

One of the organizations that performs every year is the Culture Shock Dance Troupe.  The club started 15 years ago, according to Dey Armbrister, vice president of Culture Shock Dance Troupe, and has been performing at Niabinji ever since. This year they did a performance consisting of dance pieces incorporating hip-hop, dancehall and vogue choreography,” said Armbrister. Many of the entertainers return every year and consistently collaborate with AWA. This year Culture Shock, performance’s theme was “CS Army.”

“It has been a long tradition that is the first performance of the fall semester for us, this is where our ‘Sparks’ or new members of Culture Shock are inducted to the team as official Culture Shocks,” said Armbrister. “Miyah Tomlinson, our current president, is also a part of AWA as the Community Service Liaison, so we have close ties to the organization through her as well.”

Another organization that consistently participates at the event is Nachle New Paltz. Even though they are a relatively new group on campus (having been created in 2009) they have been working with AWA and performed at Niabinji two years in a row and plan on continuing in the future, said Minna George, co-captain of Nachle New Paltz.

This year, Nachle’s dance featured a mix of Bollywood songs, Bhangram Cinematic and indie hip-hop.

“All four songs involved in the mix were from recent Bollywood films and were mostly sung in Hindi,” said George. “We also do fusion dances of classical Indian dancing styles and incorporate songs from other Indian languages into our mixes.”

Many of the participants and clubs that present have been practicing for this night since the beginning of September including Culture Shock and Nachle New Paltz.

“We have been practicing since the beginning of September onwards,” said George. “A lot of practices were held in order to keep our team progressing, but I believe all of our hard work paid off as the guests of AWA enjoyed our dance and we as Nachle enjoyed ourselves as we danced.”

Niabinji is an event that began when the late Dr. Margaret Wade-Lewis established the AWA club on campus and has happened every year since in order to celebrate Niabinji and its origins, Ladson said.