“My mom tells me that, from the day they brought me home from Liberia, I was dancing,” laughs Este, an Idaho teen fresh out of high school.
When asked at 9 or 10 if she wanted to participate on a dance team, she responded with an enthusiastic “yes!” Fast forward 10 years later and Este’s still on the same team, bubbling over with love and passion for her coach, teammates, and dance.
The team, called the Makatas Dancers, is led by a Liberian woman named Joetta who is passionate about sharing the traditional dances of her home country as well as uplifting girls and the Treasure Valley community.
“I didn’t even know there was Liberian dancing or African dancing until I met Joetta,” says Este. “I was so excited to learn about my heritage and my people.”
The Makatas schedule is intense, to say the least. The girls usually practice three times a week, often for three or four hours at a time. That didn’t deter Este; in fact, being able to connect with other girls made the long practices something to look forward to.
“Before we start practice, we sit in a circle and Joetta asks us how our day was, or what we did that weekend,” shares Este. “That helps build a bond between each and every girl. And, so, practice isn’t really hard then—it’s just fun. I mean, it is hard—your toes are sore the next day—but definitely always fun.”
During dance season, Este puts in extra time to perfect the routines.