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We practice and present a broad range of African traditional repertoires that cover over sixty-five ethnicities in Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Mali, The Gambia, and Kenya, and South Africa. (See the ethnographic map of Africa at www.ethnologue.com).
Mawre Opoku, Yekai wu (“Mawre Opoku, we remember you”), was one of the instrumental giants in African Dance and founder of the Ghana Dance Ensemble, based at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana Legon. This piece of work is pregnant with unique Ghanaian traditional elements unfolding in a flash, a tree that once stood long in the forest and its offshoots are today’s fruits from which many students, scholars, researchers etc. have emerged. This enhanced knowledge of the Ghanaian traditional dances and their social context. The simple message in this piece is that one should remember the kindnesses and sacrifices that others have shown and appreciate them wholeheartedly.
The music composition (Kai dabi) has its roots in the xylophone of the Dagbon, Atentteben flutes and drum rhythms of the Ashanti people.
This is a special dance for the Dagomba people of the Dagbon traditional area in the Northern part of Ghana. It is shared that it is a dwarf’s dance and not everyone sees this special dance, though a person may have lived in the area many years. Today we are blessed to have a chance to see this dance staged through the choreographic theme of unity and diversity among the planets of the universe and having the sun in the center of the universe around which all evolve.
This social dance for youth in the Volta Region of Ghana is a community dance among the Ewes. Usually a duet for the opposite sex, the dancers use the non-verbal language of dance through flexible torso and pelvic movements. This movement flow is interjected with a sharp silence freeze. This pause is unique in its own right because that total silence is part of the Gota music and dance. The master drummer commands the entire dance piece. The music is polyrhythmic, interwoven in a fabric of sound created by many distinct and contrasting phrases played simultaneously. The basic rhythm of each instrument is carefully crafted to contribute to the power of the overall rhythm. As the parts repeat, the players reach their aesthetic goal: a beautifully integrated whole with subliminal nurturing undercurrents to elevate the mind and soul.
Bamaya, a Dogbane harvest dance usually performed by men in ladies’ skirts, involves wiggling of the pelvis. This special dance is based on the story of a man who maltreated his wife, resulting in a plague of famine for the whole territory. It was revealed that in order to humble the man in question to his wife, all the men in the village had to dress like women - hence the Bamaya costume. The gender equality element furnishes us with food for thought…be nice to all living things. Some schools of traditional thought links the dance movements of Bamaya to fanning off mosquitoes.
Gahu means “expensive” or “jewel” in the Ewe language. It is a recreational dance. Through cultural integration among the neighbouring countries of the West Africa Sub-Region, the Gahu dance has traveled from Nigeria into the Anlo communities in Ghana. This is apparent in the costumes and also in the movements, which are Yoruba, modified by the characteristic Agbadza dance form popular with the Anlo people. Its graceful movements exhibit elegance and dignity with meaning.
“Anyemi yo lee mo ba ooh!” The song calls for the young Ga-Adagme sisters to join the dance ring. It has social characteristics in its form and creates an avenue for the people to share the stories of the day through its rich musical accompaniment.
A dance created by Otoo Lincoln in the Sakumo Tsonshi area of Accra in the early 1960s,
“Kpanlogo dance is a youthful recreational dance form of the Ga people. It is a fisher-folk dance, with most of the gestures and intricate footwork reflecting messages and depicting the fishing trade” (Akrong, Isaac. M.A. Thesis, June 2003 York University Canada). Kpanlogo is based on a story of triplet sisters and their rich, overprotective father… This choreography explores the abstracts of the entirety of what the dance stands for through its roots and leaves. Contextually, this work is ADE’s current version of the hue of Kpanlogo dance today. The song“ABC” tells the story of the Ga folks learning the alphabet through to the letter “P”, and then taking a break to dance Kpanlogo, as narrated by Otoo Lincoln at Sakumo Tsonsi in Accra Ghana. The songs combine social commentary and drum-language with roots in the ethnic idioms.
Mustapher Tetteh Addy, the founder of the Music Academy at Kokrobitey, Accra, created Fume Fume music and dance. The energy and vigor of this dance takes your entire soul into another realm. The dancers wear grass skirts characteristic to that of the ancient warriors of the land.
To be premiered in July 2006
The dynamics of life across the oceans from Africa, Ghana, to North America, Canada, tells the living story of Isaac Akrong through songs of the ancestors, dances of nature, and the breath of life with rhythms of thunder and movements of a human being.
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