Black History Month Spotlight: FROBeats

Harini Venkatesh ’25 in Arts | February 17, 2023

Black History Month is a period of recognition and celebration of the substantial impact made by African Americans in shaping our society. This annual occurrence provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of Black individuals in various aspects of history and to appreciate the undeniable impact they have made on our collective legacy. In the realm of art, Black artists have faced persistent challenges, including underrepresentation and marginalization, especially regarding subjectivity and inequity. To address these issues and celebrate the talents of the remarkable Black student artists on campus, the Arts Section of The Lawrence wanted to spotlight a student-run dance ensemble known as FRObeats. 
Led by Jessica Peters ’24, FRObeats is dedicated to performing Afro-Fusion music and dance, or Afrobeats. Afrobeats is an umbrella genre of music that fuses West African, Nigerian, Ghanaian, and American soul-funk styles. Afrobeats dancing wields this range of music to generate choreography that is not widely represented in American culture. According to Michelle Egu ’23, a member of FRObeats, “the dance ensemble introduces a unique and transformative dance style using hip-hop-inspired dances and various cultural and Afro dance moves.” Since the goal of FRObeats is to highlight and honor the rich cultural diversity within Africa through dynamic performances aimed at cultural expression, by making the ensemble available for all people to audition, FROBeats welcomes all students to learn about and appreciate this vibrant genre of dance. 
The group enables its dancers to showcase their heritage and emotions through storytelling, offering a platform for cultural exchange and increasing appreciation for Afro-Fusion music and dance. Rehanna Yabuku ’25, a two-year member of the team, describes her experience with FRObeats as “incredibly welcoming,” especially as a first-time dancer and newcomer to Lawrenceville. She emphasizes the significance of dance to her culture and sees FRObeats as a way to embrace it, citing the group's community and openness as providing opportunities for cultural immersion through dance. 
Overall, the annual celebration of Black History Month provides an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of Black individuals and to appreciate creatives who tell stories of lived experiences and inspire cultural interchange. Through its dynamic performances, FRObeats helps shape the cultural landscape and create a welcoming environment for all students to learn about and appreciate the vibrant genre of Afro-Fusion music and dance.