City Cast

Houston Dancer Honors African Roots

Brooke Lewis
Posted on July 21
Dr. Lindsay Gary, founder of Dance Afrikana in Houston. (Provided by Gary)

Dr. Lindsay Gary, founder of Dance Afrikana in Houston. (Provided by Gary)

Besides being a professor, business owner, and entrepreneur, Dr. Lindsay Gary is a dancer at heart. The Third Ward native also runs Dance Afrikana, a professional dance company focused on African dance tradition. Her new project, “Dancing Home: (to) Houston,” which honors her African roots and hometown, will close this weekend with a reception and performance of “I don’t speak French.”

Q: What do you love about dancing?

“I feel a connection to my ancestors, people who are no longer here. A connection to cultures that I may not have grown up with, but have similarities because they’re part of the Diaspora. I’m able to connect and learn that way through movement. If I’m in a class with an Afro-Cuban dance teacher, I’m learning about culture. I’m learning language. I’m learning history that I may not have learned in a classroom setting. Dance is a vessel for me to transmit information through my body.”

Q: How do you see your African dance roots connected to Houston?

“I grew up recognizing myself as an African person, as a Black person, as an Afro-Creole person, as an African-American. Over time, I wanted to create a connection that is clearly visible to the other part of the world and the communities. Oftentimes, we don’t see Black American dance as clearly African. Especially coming from, where my people are from in Louisiana, zydeco being one of the earliest dance forms I ever learned with my grandmother and my Dad, dancing on his feet. A lot of our family members and community don’t associate that with Africa. My entire mission in my life is to connect the Diaspora to the continent, and through dance and this particular project that’s what I'm doing.”

Q: Why do you think so many Africans are drawn to settle in Houston?

“I really consider Houston to be a Little Nigeria. I think about the other African people [moving to Houston] — from Ethiopia, Ghana, the Congo, Angola. Houston draws in a lot of international people. I still haven’t gotten to the bottom of it, but I think it’s our climate, the economic benefits, the different types of resources we have through the medical center, the oil and gas industry, the Port.”

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