The Council of Umfundalai Teachers
"If townspeople are happy, look for the chief!" (Liberian Proverb)
In an advisory capacity, the Council of Umfundalai Teachers’ leads the NAAADT’s efforts to provide world-class training in Umfundalai teaching and to create experiences that allow for the expansion and deepening of Umfundalai’s African Diasporic movement practice and culture. "The Council" represents the leadership of Umfundalai. Comprised of Umfundalai Dance Masters and Senior Dance Mother, “the Council’s” primary focus is to maintain the integrity of Umfundalai’s evolving traditions in ways that include but are not limited to the development and maintenance of Umfundalai ritual and protocol, the pursuit of creative and scholarly research that further articulates Umfundalai’s position in an African continuum, and the oversight of artistic endeavors that honor Dr. Kariamu Welsh’s legacy in contemporary dance.
The Council of Umfundalai Teachers are certified Umfundalai instructors who have earned and/or have been knighted the positions of Dance Master, Senior Dance Master, Senior Dance Mother, or Oluko within the Umfundalai dance culture. Umfundalai’s progenitor, the late Dr. Kariamu Welsh, started the “Council” on May 22, 2012 during a day-long retreat in Norfolk, Virginia in an attempt to organize the leadership of Umfundalai through the first iteration of the Organization of Umfundalai Teachers. Upon the certification of the third dance master, Saleana Pettaway, she aimed to articulate dance masters’ responsibilities based on what she perceived to be their strengths and to decentralize herself as the primary focus of administrative, scholarly, and financial activity. While there had been sporadic attempts to mobilize the group for ten years after its inception, it would not be until after her passing in 2021, that this cadre of dance masters would re-invent itself as Umfundalai’s governing structure.