Senior connects to Ethiopian roots through dance

October 14, 2019 — by Anna Novoselov

Eight years ago, when senior Berdie Bailey was 9-years-old, she moved from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, to Saratoga. While she misses her birthplace, she connects to her roots through Ethiopian dance.

“It’s from my hometown so every time I do it, I feel like I’m awake and having fun and enjoying it,” she said.

Bailey learned many moves from her friends in Ethiopia and every time she dances, she remembers the fun memories that they shared. She remembers playing soccer outside with them, running around and laughing and of course, dancing together. 

When Bailey first moved to America, she took lessons from a friend for a year, but stopped when she began focusing more on sports and other commitments.

Now, she enjoys dancing at home with friends, coming up with her own moves and watching Ethiopian dance videos and copying the motions. She said that dancing helps her relax and loosen up, since she dances simply for fun. 

Although she doesn’t take lessons from a professional or perform in front of audiences, she does occasionally post videos of her dancing to her Instagram account: ethio_20. She doesn’t have a specific schedule of posting or a theme that she tries to follow; besides that, she also posts selfies and pictures of her with her siblings.

Bailey turns on Ethiopian music “whenever she feels like it.” She enjoys that most of the music is lively and upbeat.

“It makes you move your body a lot,” she said. “When you listen to the music you just want to move and start dancing.”

She dances two or more times a week, or when she wants to unwind from stress or relax. 

“There’s no certain way you dance or certain way you don’t,” she said. “It’s whatever you make it. You have fun with it. It’s the easiest thing to learn.” 

Ethiopian dance has many different styles such as Eskista, Bailey’s favorite, which is characterized by rolling and bouncing the shoulders and moving the neck side to side. Another style, Tigrigna, involves moving around in a circular pattern really slowly. 

While Bailey draws inspiration from these styles, she also incorporates motions that she comes up with herself. 

She said she doesn’t feel any expectations for herself when she dances; she simply has fun with the movements. Dancing serves as an outlet for whatever she’s feeling whether it be sadness, excitement or anger.

“When I dance, I don’t need to think about my problems,” she said. “I just get lost in the music and the movement. Dancing for me is like freedom.”

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