At 9:40 a.m., some students are recovering from the strain of early morning classes and some are just waking up to start their day. But in the small, bright dance studio next to Tom Miles Theatre, vibrant, heavy percussion bounces off the walls and fills the room with the sort of tension and excitement that can only be provided by one thing.
African music.
The studio is filled with students from every background and experience level, but all are up and ready to dance once a cue from the drums is struck. The pupils stand at attention to the muscular, long-haired man in front of the studio’s mirrors, who explains what lessons are about to be reviewed and what new teachings await.
That man is Habib Iddrisu, an award-winning African musician and dancer who has brought his expertise to an African dance class being offered for the first time at Pacific University. His ability to command dancers is exhibited prominently once his assistant starts to play the congas and students begin to hit precise motions and movements of great coordination and musicality. The fact that this man was able to bring this diverse group of people and make them function as a unit, almost like an army, is no easy feat.
Apart from teaching dance, Iddrisu enjoys teaching African history, which he considers “one of his areas of qualification,” as he is from Ghana. But it is only one reason that drew him to teaching African dance.
Furthermore, Iddrisu granted insight into why he chose to teach at Pacific specifically, what he has seen so far in the dance program and what he hopes for its future.
“I picked it for a variety of reasons,” said Iddrisu. “First of all ,the school has such a great reputation. And secondly, Jennifer Camp, who is the director of dance, at this moment is building a new dance program.”
This year, dance was one of the new majors added to the list offered of studies offered at Pacific.
Iddrisu concluded that with the help of Camp and his experience with great students, he decided the opportunity at Pacific was a good fit.
“The energy around it and just the appreciation of dance in this culture just makes me want to share it,” said Iddrisu.
However, the freshness of the program is also leaving Iddrisu at a loss for things that may be lacking. For now, he is just pleased to “have the rest of the community be a part. We are growing,” Iddrisu said.

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