Using language and dance to immerse students in cultural diversity, UGA lecturer Fuad Elhage created the Diversity through Dance workshop to facilitate interactions between students of different backgrounds. Echoing the Dancing Classrooms program established by Pierre Dulaine and the basis for the 2006 feature film "Take the Lead" starring Antonio Banderas, the workshop uses movement, interactive group discussions, hands-on activities and lectures.
As a continuation of Elhage’s workshop, The UGA Tango Club and Cine are hosting Milonga Tropical, a night of Tango intertwined with Latin Rhythm dancing, on Friday, August 23 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The UGA Tango Club will have four free beginner Tango classes the week leading up to the event, including one right before the event. During the Milonga, Athens Tango Project will play live music. Couples, singles and all experience levels welcome.
"Athens has a fairly rich dance community, but Tango has yet to be fully embraced. While Tango is the most beautiful of all dances, it is more than just a dance. It teaches you how to relate to another person through body and mind, being absolutely connected, but also being strong and independent," Elhage said. "Our hope is that Athens' First Milonga will enrich the music and dance scene of this vibrant town, and promote a diverse community connected by the love of Tango, the art of encounters, and musicality."
Elhage's research interests include global business relations, language acquisitions, cultural competence and kinesthetic empathy through dance. The workshop ethos, “if we move in sync, we feel in sync,” utilizes dance to connect with others and cultivate empathy. The workshop is an integral component of the Diversity and Inclusion certificate for the UGA Office of Institutional Diversity.
A lecturer of Spanish for the Professions in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of Romance Languages, Elhage received his doctorate studying dance as a vehicle for prejudice reduction. He won the UGA Diversity Engagement Award in 2010.
“Dance has helped me maintain my previous affiliations to my different cultures. Dance, as well as language, has been a powerful tool that enabled me, an "other", to build a bridge to connect myself with other people,” Elhage said. “Even more, language and dance have been an unbroken thread that connects all my "other" selves.”
The event is free and open to the public, a great community engagement opportunity for mind and body.