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At Folklife, Troupe Celebrates African Heritage With Pulse-Pounding Beats

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While celebrating African and African-American culture through dance and song, the Taratibu performers give back to the less fortunate as well.
Shannon Evans/Sevan Photography
While celebrating African and African-American culture through dance and song, the Taratibu performers give back to the less fortunate as well.

The annual Folklife Festival on the National Mall brings many sights and sounds, from Calypso bands to organic cooking demonstrations. But a resounding sound coming from a far corner of the Mall seems to overpower all the others: the Taratibu Youth Association.

It's an all-girl group of African heritage dancers, whose foot thumping beats and heart-pounding chants are drawing in an international crowd of hundreds. The group is made up of girls 11 to 23 years old. It's founder, Arla Scott, started this group in 2007 to help girls build character and confidence through dance.

"The inspiration is that it is a percussive dance that always has a message, and it's a message of empowerment, or history, or something uplifting," says Scott.

The group is hoping to take their Folklife performance overseas. They're currently fundraising for a trip to South Africa. They've already been to Tanzania and Benin.

"It's exciting thinking about it," says Victoria Mitchell, one of the dancers in the group. "I hope that we have a great time because the first two times we weren't able to take everyone, but we're hoping and wishing and raising money to see if we can get everyone to go this time."

They'll be performing Friday and Sunday on the National Mall.

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