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When Ithaca played its longtime rival, SUNY Cortland, at MetLife Stadium for the traditional Cortaca Jug football game, fans of both teams got a halftime treat: a special performance from the Ithaca College African Drumming and Dance Ensemble. 

With a record-breaking 45,161 fans in attendance, the stadium was filled with energy. “I’m not a big football person,” says Naya Griles ’22, who performed as a member of the Ithaca College Choir and as a drummer with the African Drumming and Dance Ensemble. “But I’ve never felt school spirit like that before. It was awesome.”

Under the direction of Baruch Whitehead, associate professor of music education, the African Drumming and Dance Ensemble put on a lively performance with plenty of creativity.

“We came on at halftime to perform all the songs for the dancers. They were really simple four-beat patterns with plenty of improvisation—you get a feel for the beat, and then make up what you think sounds good. You get the basics, and then you flare it up a little based upon your skill, how the piece is making you feel, and the energy that you’re getting from the crowd.”

Bolstered by that same spirited crowd, Ithaca defeated Cortland, 32-20, to take the Cortaca Jug for the third straight year.