Boomshaka

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Boomshaka is Northwestern University's premier drum, dance, and rhythm ensemble. Entirely student written, directed, and produced, Boomshaka has established a reputation for consistently delivering energetic and inspiring performances. We combine dance styles such as hip-hop and tap with various forms of percussion, using everything from sticks, poles, and buckets to our hands and feet. Our performers come from a variety of backgrounds and have a number of areas of artistic expertise, ranging from classical music composition and formal dance training to free style rapping and break dancing. We blend our unique talents and experiment with new mediums of expression to create a performance like none other!

Boomshaka connects the worlds of dance, music, and percussion to form a unique performance ensemble driven by a love of rhythm. Whether performing at schools or staging impromptu shows on neighborhood streets, Boomshaka brings rhythm and energy to audiences across the country, inviting them to groove and find the beat that lies within us all.

In 1997, Northwestern University drumline member Josh Berner wrote a STOMP-inspired piece for Northwestern's annual student-written musical Waa-Mu. They used pots, pans, and food trays from the campus dining halls and named the piece “Saga Stomp,” taking the name from Northwestern students' common term for the campus food service provider, Saga. “Saga Stomp” combined complex rhythms, energetic choreography, and Northwestern humor in one wild piece and ran as one of the major highlights of the show.

Fueled by the success of “Saga Stomp,” Jade Smalls, fellow drumline member and “Saga Stomp” performer, joined Berner to start an independent performance troupe based on the same concepts. With financial help from Northwestern's student-run production company Wave Productions, they formed Boomshaka and by 1999 staged its first show as headliners, Sometimes You've Just Gotta Put Your Foot Down. Despite being held on the same weekend as Northwestern's notorious music festival Dillo Day, both of the back-to-back performances sold out.

The following winter, Boomshaka sold out all five performances of their second show Evolve, solidifying Boomshaka’s presence on campus as a premier performance ensemble. During Spring Break of 2000, Boomshaka established itself as a performance ensemble outside of the Northwestern community by touring the Northeast coast and performing in New York, Washington D.C. and Boston.

Having grown into a yearlong performance ensemble, Boomshaka separated from Wave Productions in 2001 and produced its third show, Be the Groove, as an independent production company at Northwestern. Since then, Boomshaka has grown into an accomplished and established ensemble, performing across Northwestern, Chicago, and the country.

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