Peripherally aware, is probably the best way to describe my knowledge of the TransNdanceNdrum Center. As a frequent visitor of Rosendale’s summer Street Festival, their drummers are prominent part of the festivities. They set up an interactive drumming booth where everyone is invited to play. I stop and listen but there’s always so much more to see, I considered them part of the festival ambiance.
Then I walked in.
On the surface the TransNdanceNdrum Center is a local artist retail space, but on Tuesday nights it’s something else entirely.
If you walk by, sound of djembe drumming resonates through the centers glass windows. Inside, the floor shakes to the beat of 14 drummers, who all happen to be women.
The circle is led by Fre Atlast. Yes, free at-last. She’s an energetic woman with a magnetic personality who can make communal drumming sound like the cure to whatever ails your spirit.
“Drumming is a universal language and a language that is easily spoken by anyone without any musical experience. Drumming is an equalizer, we all play the same beats, we all play together. You could be 2 you could be 102. If you have a heart beat you can drum.”
As the circle gathers and the women begin to drum, the vibe in the room feels less like a practice session or rehearsal and more like a fellowship. Stories of minor and major importance are shared and everyone bonds over the subtle details of the past weeks events.
The drummers are as familiar with each other’s voices as they are drumming styles and harmonies are easily created on the spur of the moment. The women drum with emphatic and animated styles, arms may be flailing but it’s all in rhythm.