UConn Alima, an extension of Alima International Dance Association, held their fall showcase Thursday night to support sexual assault awareness.
Originated at University of Rhode Island in 2005, Alima’s goal is “to teach our members and the surrounding community about cultural differences through the art of dance and music. Our dances tell stories of people from Africa, the Caribbean, Asia, Europe and other places around the world,” according to Alima’s founding statement.
Alima founder Rama Ly was present at the event and spoke about the meaning of Alima.
“Alima,” Ly said, “is an Arabic word meaning ‘those who are skilled in dance and music.’”
Ly emphasized that being a part of Alima does not necessitate being well-versed in dance or music.
“Wherever I go, I’m like the craziest dancer,” Ly said. “I’m not skilled, I’m just crazy.”
Alima began at UConn in 2009 and was founded by Carly Olsen, a member of URI’s Alima before transferring to UConn, according to Ly.
UConn Alima currently has 15 members, according to the event’s program.
The fall showcase was a collaboration with the Sexual Assault Center of Eastern Connecticut, a non-profit organization that offers free services to victims of sexual assault, sexual abuse, harassment and incest, according to the program.
“Some of these services include crisis intervention, advocacy, counseling, child advocacy centers and prevention and community education,” the program said.
“As a group of girls in Alima, we know that it is very important to support not only people in our own gender, but people in other genders as well,” said Prachi Shah, the event’s MC.
Shah is a UConn Alima alumna and 2017 graduate.
“We know that we all need to stand together against violence, so I think that this was a great cause to pair with,” Shah said.
During intermission, raffle tickets were sold for baskets put together by the parents of Alima members.
The proceeds of the raffle tickets went to the Sexual Assault Center of Eastern Connecticut, according to the program.
The showcase consisted of two acts with seven and eight performances, respectively.
The event featured guest performances by UConn Tap Team, UConn Illumin8, UConn Swing and Blues, UConn Irish, UConn Taiko, UConn Breakdancing and URI Alima.
Alima focuses on a variety of dance styles, according to Shah.
“I taught them bhangra, they taught me hip hop,” Shah said. “It’s basically a community.”
After returning for a few practices, Shah decided to return to host the event, she said.
“I couldn’t stay away,” Shah said. “Alima has been my family for the past two and a half years while I’ve been at UConn, and once I graduated, I didn’t want to stay away because I love them so much.”
Ly spoke about how Alima acts as a connector for people of different backgrounds and cultures.
“We may be different races but we have one thing in common: our souls,” Ly said. “We all have souls. We are all one.”
“When I was a student here I was a part of a couple of dance teams but I really was drawn to Alima because of their sense of family,” Shah said. “And the fact that they are open to everyone. There are no auditions to join, so everyone comes in with whatever experience they have and we teach each other.”
Abby Brone is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.