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About Boomshaka

Boomshaka is a Northwestern University 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 modern with various forms of percussion using everything from buckets, trash cans, poles, and even our own bodies.

Boomshaka frequently performs on Northwestern's campus. In fall quarter, they can be found rehearsing at all hours for the school's largest, and most-hype dance show 'Refusionshaka' performed in Cahn Auditorium with Northwestern's dance groups Refresh and Fusion. In the winter, Boomshaka rehearses for their very own spring show, which is jam-packed with new, exciting, creative, never-before-seen pieces and takes place in Shanley Pavillion or McCormick Auditorium. Being a hit with the Northwestern community, the greater Chicago community, friends, and families, these shows frequently sell out, so you'd better seize your opportunity to watch Boomshaka perform whenever you can!

Boomshaka frequenly gigs outside of the Chicagoland area in non-staged performance as well. As a nationally touring ensemble, Boomshaka has performed in New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Los Angeles/Orange County, and beyond! Boomshaka loves to share their passion for music and dance with local schools. We can perform in a variety of spaces, and our performances can be as short as 5 minutes or as long as 45 minutes. We also offer rhythm and dance workshops, which have allowed us to hand-deliver the excitement of drum, dance, and rhythm to young audiences who might too go on to be in Boomshaka one day. 



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 performer in Saga Stomp joined Berner to start an independent performance troupe based on the same concepts later that year. With financial help from Northwestern's student-run production company WAVE, 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 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.​


Boomshaka's drum and dance doesn't stop at Northwestern though. Alumni have continued to develop their passion for rhythm through the Chicago based rhythm ensemble, Be The Groove. Feel free to check them out here!

Boomshaka in the Press

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