The ensemble specializes
in a broad spectrum of musical styles ranging from work-based dances to
ritualistic ones representative of East, West, Central and Southern Africa.
Through hard work, dedication, research and training, the ensemble now
boasts of a large repertoire of traditional dances from: Ghana, Senegal,
Guinea, Togo, Nigeria, Uganda, Benin, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. In
addition, the ensemble has created new contemporary dances and instrumental
works such as: Creole African, Totobli Metrov #1, Three Movement Suite
for Pan-African Chamber Orchestra, Totobli, Polyrhythms, Coexistence, RhythmKeepers,
from Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Senegal
Agbadza is among the oldest musical types performed
by the Southern Ewe of Ghana, Togo, Benin, and parts of Southwestern
Nigeria. Agbadza is derived from an older
war dance known as Atrikpui. As a social and recreational music and dance,
its performance is open to everybody in the community, irrespective
of class, age,
sex, and religion. There are other varieties of this musical type that have
different names: Kini, Akpoka, Ageshie, and Agba-- tempo being
the main distinguishing
factor among these varieties. There are five sections or movements in Agbadza
performance: 1. Banyinyi- a short introductory piece that is performed as
a prayer to the gods and the ancestors, 2. Vutsortsor- the main
dance section, 3. Adzo-
a less-vigorous dance section, during which only the master drum, Sogo, accompanied
by Gankogui and Axatse are used, 4. Hatsatsa- song cycle, during which topical,
historical, philosophical, and reflective songs are performed accompanied
by Gankogui and Atoke, 5. Vutsortsor- another round of the main
dance section, which
may last for several hours.
Agbaei is another social music and dance of the
Krobo of Ghana. It is flirtatious in nature. Oral history has
it that Agbaei was founded when the elders of
the Krobo land in their early days of settlement realized that the youth
problems with "Dating." The young men and women were therefore compelled
to participate in this music and dance so that they can gather some tips to
help them in real life situations
Adowa is by far the most widespread and frequently performed social dance
of the Akan people of Ghana. The Akan are located in Ashanti, Brong Ahafo,
Central and parts of the Volta Regions of Ghana. It is best described in
Akan musical traditions as a women's dance because they dominate the performance.
The few men that are seen during any performance handle the musical instruments.
This dance is mostly performed at funerals, but can also be seen at yearly
visits of important dignitaries, and other celebrations.
Adzogbo originated from Benin (Dahomey) as a Dzovu
(spiritual/religious) music and dance). It was
called Dzovu, in that during any performance,
the men participants
would display their dzoka (juju/charms) especially the so-called "love charms” to
seduce women. When this music was brought to Togo and later Ghana in the late
19th century, its function changed. The southeastern Ewe of Ghana now performs
it for entertainment during festivals and other social occasions. The women's’ section
or phase of the dance is called Kadodo.
Atsiagbekor is among the oldest traditional dances
of the Ewe-speaking people of Southern Ghana, Togo,
and Benin. Originally a war dance
battle when the warriors returned to the village, it is now performed
on many social
occasions. One of the outstanding features of the dance is the
interaction between the master drummer and the
dancers: ‘every rhythmic theme played on the
master drum has a corresponding sequence of dance movements which is timed to
precisely match the drum rhythms" (Locke, 1978). Atsiagbekor songs
constitute an important heritage of Ewe oral tradition. Most of the songs
references to their chiefs, war leaders, migration stories, themes relating
to the invincibility of the Ewes against their enemies, themes of loyalty,
and death etc. To watch an Atsiagbekor performance today in Ghana is
to watch scenes, which may have their actual origins in battles that
were fought as
the Ewes trekked through hostile countries in search of peace.
Atsokla is one of the movements of Adzogbo m usic
and dance ceremony. Adzogbo originated from Benin
as a dzohu (spiritual/religious music
It was then called adzohu, in that during any performance, the
men participants/dancers (leshiwo) would display their dzoka
(juju/charms) especially the so-called “love
charms” to seduce women. When this music was brought to
Togo and later Ghana in the late 19th century, its function changed.
The southeastern Ewe of
Ghana, Togo and Benin now perform it for entertainment during
festivals and other social occasions. There are five stages of
Adzogbo dance ceremony: Gbefadede
(announcement), Adzokpadede (warm up), Tsifofodi (purification
rites), atsokla/kadodo (dance for the women) and atsia (main
theatrical display of drama, dance and
virtuosity of dance skills by men). This presentation features
only atsokla, a “show off” dance for women. Mirrors
and other props are used to tease, show or bluff during the performance.
Asaadua was once a popular recreation musical type
among the Akan people of Ghana. Its performance
is now limited to some
and Brong Ahafo
regions. Like other popular entertainment music, which evolves
from the ingenuity of some veteran traditional musicians, Asaadua
as a youth
music for the men of the Akan tradition.
Babasiko is a recreational music and dance of the
Southeastern Anlo Ewe of Ghana, performed mostly at social
in character. Its characteristic form is the strutting and
bobbing up and down and a display of theatrical elegance.
of the arms, eyes and total facial expression. Proposals
of intimacy can be seen accepted or rejected through bodily
Bademalor is a woman's dance drumming from the Mahouka ethnic
group. This dance is performed at night after a hard day’s work
or at weddings and other social gatherings.
One of the oldest traditional dances of the Dagaare speaking
people of the Upper west Region of Ghana. Bawaa is a ritual and
the beginning and end of the rainy season, good harvest, New
Year and other social events.Bamaaya
Bamaaya, meaning, "The river (valley) is wet", is
the most popular social music and dance of the Dagbamba of
began as a religious
musical performance, but now functions during funerals, festivals,
national day celebrations, and other social occasions. Dancing
the Bamaaya requires
of waist movement and twisting. The maiden name for this music
and dance, Tubankpeli, is now the main dance movement. Originally,
only men took
part in the dance
while the women would sing, shout praises, and encourage the
dancers. Now, Bamaaya
is for both genders.
The joy on achieving Independence in Ghana was
expressed in various ways by the entire populace of the
country. This "new life" envisaged, resulted
in the emergence of several new musical types. These new creations relating to
the "freedom" to be enjoyed through the said independence
have roots in the popular Ghanaian Highlife. Boboobo is one of
of the period 1947 - 1957. Also known as Agbeyeye or Akpese;
Boboobo originated from Kpando in the Volta Region of Ghana through
of the late
Cudjoe Nuatro popularly called F.C. Boboobo is presently the
most popular social music and dance of the central and northern
Ewes of Ghana and
Togo. It is generally
performed at funerals and other social occasions. Boboobo music
and dance ceremony is syncretic in character and it is performed
a circular formation.
A traditional ceremonial welcome performance from the Wassolon region of Guinea.
Fankani also is performed at the feast of Tabaski, a full moon festival
and other social occasions.
Fume Fume is the most recent of all Ga recreational musical types. Tetteh Addy
the eldest brother of the Mustapha Tettey Addy, Yakubu Addy and Obo Addy all
master drummers from Avenor, in Accra, Ghana created this musical type in the
late 1970s. Although a recreational dance drumming type, almost all the dance
movements and instrumental rhythmic patterns used in Fume Fume performance are
derived from traditional Ga religious dances such as Kple, Akom, Otu, Nana, Tigare,
etc. Fume fume is presently performed at life-cycle events, festivals, political
rallies and other social events.
Fontomfrom or Bomaa is the most complex of all
musical types of the Akan of Ghana. It is a series of warrior
dances that are
and social contexts at the courts of chiefs.
Gadzo is a war-dance drama of the southeastern
Anlo Ewe of Ghana, which came from Notsie in the Republic of Togo.
music and dance
performed after wars so that the warriors could reenact battle
scenes for those at home.
Presently, Gadzo is performed during ancestral stool festivals,
Zikpuiza, state festival Hogbetsotso, funerals of important
chiefs and members
of the group,
and by professional and amateur groups for entertainment.
Gahu emanated from the musical traditions associated
with marriage and wedding rites of the Yoruba of Nigeria. This
can be seen
the rich Yoruba costume worn by dancers. The Southern Ewe
of Ghana and Togo presently
performs the dance on most social occasions.
Gota originated from the Kabre tribe of Benin,
and was introduced to the Southeastern Ewe in the early nineteenth
performed in Benin
for their war god, Gota is now performed as a recreational
music and dance by the Southern Ewe people.
Gome is one of the oldest musical types performed
by the coastal Ga of Ghana, which was introduced by Accra fishermen
Fernando Po Islands
early eighteenth century. Originally, Gome was performed
exclusively by fishermen after
their expeditions to celebrate their catch. Other occupational
groups, especially artisans, also eventually adopted
music and dance
as a form of entertainment.
Presently, Gome is performed by all categories of people--
young and old, male and female, on all social occasions.
Gue-Pelou, the tall mask, is seen at every celebration in any Mahouka
village. The mask serves as the mediator between the world of the living
and the spiritual world of the ancestors.
Gyewani recreational music and dance is peculiar
to the people of Nyamebekyere in the Akwapim Traditional
Area of the Eastern
of Ghana. This
music and dance came into existence by sheer incident.
It was one Christmas Eve
young boys in the village went to the bamboo groove
(which is situated near a river) to cut some bamboo
stalks for their annual
the process of cutting, a piece of the bamboo stalk
into the river. After retrieving this piece of bamboo
from the river,
of the boys
struck it against
a near by rock. The "melodious” sound from
this bamboo stem came as a surprise to all the boys.
Instead of the fireworks, they cut
various lengths, which they then used in making music.
This gave birth to the Gyewani Bamboo music and dance.
Other varieties of this music
are also found
in most forest areas of Ghana.
Husago is one of the phases/movements in Yeve ritual performance. Yeve (also
known as Xebieso, Hú or Tohono) is a thunder God, a pantheon with
historical relations to the Yoruba Shango and Xevioso of Benin. The cult
is one of the most "powerful" and most secretive among others
that exists in West Africa. Yeve musical repertoire usually involves at
least seven or at most nine dance forms. Husago was the dance used by the
Southeastern Anlo-Ewe of Ghana during their migration from Notsie in the
Republic of Togo to their present settlements.
Jera was originally a religious music and dance
of the Kparibas in Dagbon, performed before and after
It is now
most Dagbamba villages
in Northern Ghana on diverse social occasions: festivals,
funerals, and for recreation after a hard day's work.
The religious costume
Kete is commonly found in the royal courts of traditional
Akan communities. It is performed in the courts
of every chief whose
him to be carried
in a palanquin. The music therefore can be heard
on state occasions and festivals. There are three
vocal counterpart of the pipe tunes. At least,
eight pieces are played during a performance.
These pieces are identified by the general name
for the type of drumming and dancing, by name of its
commemorative of an event, or by name indicative
of the participants. Adaban also called Topre is
chief has to perform
the ceremonial "shooting
dance". Apente is used mostly for processions.
Kpanlongo is the most recent of all Ga recreational
musical types, an offshoot of Gome, Oge, Kolomashie,
as "the dance of the
youth,” Kpanlongo started during the wake of Ghana’s Independence
as a musical type for entertainment in Accra. Kpanlongo is presently
performed at life-cycle events, festivals, and political rallies.
Kpatsa is the principal traditional entertainment
music and dance of the Dangme of Ghana, in
West Africa. The
movements, making use of short, brisk steps
with the body slightly bent. The dance steps move
backwards. With arms
front of the body, the right leg steps in concert
with the movement of the right arm while the
left leg steps
same time as
the left arm;
remains flat on the ground, the heel of the
other foot is lifted off the ground.
Klama music and dance is associated with puberty rites
of the Krobo of Ghana. The celebration of this music
and dance highlights the "outdooring” of girls who have undergone
intensive tutoring in mother craft. Klama is now performed
on various social occasions.
Kinatsu is a warriors/hunters dance of the Konkonba
tribe of Northern Ghana. Although it began as a warriors/hunters musical
performance, it now functions as a harvest dance during funerals, festivals,
national day celebrations, and other social occasions.
Kundum music and dance, which is performed as part
of the annual Kundum festival of the Ahanta and
Nzema people of Ghana originated in a situation
of famine and hunger around 1700. Although traditionally a harvest
music and dance,
Kundum can now be seen on all social occasions. Kundum
is performed in 2/3 sections:
The first is domo, a slow movement, in which dancers evoke beauty, majesty
and gracefulness with stately postures of tilted bodies. The second section
ewulalå (literally meaning "pumping") inspires fast and
masculine movements. The third section edudule consists of vigorous torso-to-torso
strutting movements of the body. The act of "plucking" in the
fields is dramatized in the Kundum dance.
dance performed by the Kasena Nankeni people of
Paga and Navrongo in the Upper East Region of
Ghana. In the olden days, it was performed at
but today, even though it still maintains this function, it can also
be seen on most social occasions excluding
marriage ceremonies. Movements
reflect the spirit of togetherness.
Wedding music and dance of the Dagbamba women of
Northern Ghana. This music is performed exclusively by women in
honor of a new bride. Songs
this celebration relate to topical, human, marriage, and other social
Sanga is one of recreational musical types of the
Ashanti-Akan of Ghana. The instruments used in this ensemble and
their specific rhythms suggest
Ghana, Dagbamba origins. The dance may be called a "chase" - it
is gay and flirtatious. The women dancers wear bustles to attract the men.
Sikyi is a recreational music and dance of the
youth of Ashanti. It originated in the 1920s but became very popular
around Ghana’s Independence in
1957. It is performed in the vein of Kpanlongo of the Ga of Accra and Boboobo
the Northern Ewe of the Volta Region of Ghana. Sikyi is seen principally
at social gatherings where the youth solely express themselves in courtship.
is flirtatious in character. Its characteristic form is the strutting and
bobbing up and down and a display of theatrical elegance
Takai is a royal dance of the Dagbamba chiefs and princes.
It is performed on festive occasions such as the annual Damba festival,
political rallies, and durbar of chiefs. Danced only by men, Takai
movements involve pivot turns, torso swings, and stamping to the rhythm
of the Luna and gungon, the only drums that are used in this dance.
Yeve is believed to be a "Stone or Thunder God" that falls from the
sky during or after a rainstorm. This religious society is one of the most
powerful and secretive among cults in the southeastern Ewe territories of West
Africa. Among the Anlo-Ewe, it is also known as Xebieso, Hu or Tohono. Yeve
has strong historical relations with the Yoruba Shango deity of Nigeria and
Fon Xevieso of Benin. Yeve music and dance is distinct from other Ewe musical
types because of its general structure. It is considered a suite of seven to
nine dance forms or movements. Each movement is related to specific phases
of worship. The major dance forms or movements include: Sovu, Husago, Sogbadze,
Afovu and Adavu.Dances from Guinea and Senegal
Dibon is played to accompany farmers returning from
a long day of work in the fields among the Malinke of Guinea, West
Africa. The rhythm comes from
calls of a particular species of birds. These calls help them locate each
other in the morning after a night’s rest.
In the Guinean regions of Macenta and Balandougou,
Kassa music is performed at life cycle celebrations (baptism, circumcisions,
and weddings). Sofa
is the Malinke term for hunter and the dance is a tribute to them. Some
dance movements are symbolic gestures to these important members of Mande
Soko is a Manlinke initiation music and dance from
the Faranah region in Guinea performed during the months preceding
the male rite of circumcision.
who will be circumcised, traditionally will have their heads shaved
during the performance.
Wali shows work dances that are quite popular in
the regions of Guinea in West Africa. It is performed in two sections,
Koukou and Triba.
dance from the Guinean highlands, and is a work dance for young men
and women. Triba is shared with the Landouma of mid-Guinea; it is
performed to celebrate
their rice harvest.
Sabar is the primary form of drumming of the Wolof of Senegal. Traditionally,
Sabar drumming was used in religious ceremonies, however, in modern
settings, Sabar is used mainly for various dance-drumming events.
The Sabar ensemble
includes the m'bung m'bung, sabar n'der, the lambe and talmbat gorong
drums. This arrangement demonstrates the two basic musical structures
Sabar drumming "bak" and "mbalax". Bak, which is characterized
by unison drumming phrases, is performed as introductory or bridges in a performance.
Mbalax, which uses multi-layered rhythmic patterns and improvisation, is used
for the dance
A welcome ceremonial music of the Malenke people from
the border region between Guinea and Mali in West Africa. This music
is performed during traditional festivals such as the Ramadan, Tabaseki,
weddings and other social occasions.
A dance from the Giriama and Digo people of the Coastal
Region of Kenya. This harvest dance is performed during happy celebrations
of successful community
achievements and bumper harvest. The dance movements originate from the style
of grinding millet, which emphasize the shoulder and waist with special accentuation
of the upper torso.
This dance is from the Kakamega people of the Luhyia
ethnic group of western province of Kenya. It is performed mainly
during festivities and ceremonies
associated with wedding, child naming, bull fight and commemoration of
new homes. Most of the songs that are used emphasize and praise
the heroes and
leaders of the communities.
Dances from Zimbabwe
Mbende also known as Jerusarema comes from the Zezuru
people of western Mashobaland of Zimbabwe. Originally, this dance
was performed exclusively
marriage ceremony of a chief's daughter but it is now open to all men
and women of marrying
age. The dance movements are "sexual in nature"; mimicking courtship
and sexual encounters but at the same time exhibiting sexual prowess of both
men and women.
Dances from Uganda
Baakisimba: Sematimba Ne Kikwabanga and Olutalu
Royal music for the Kabaka (king) of the Buganda
of Uganda. Two types of log xylophones are found among the Baganda
of Uganda and are played
of the Kabaka's court. The amadinda is a twelve -key xylophone and
the akadinda has seventeen or twenty-two keys. The akadinda is strictly
the King (Kabaka). In range, the akadinda extends beyond the amadinda,
especially in the upper register. Three musicians play on the amadinda
whilst the akadinda
involves three to six players. Both xylophone styles are based on interlocking
melodies that are performed in octave duplications. The individual
often relatively simple, but their combination yields music of extreme
complexity and beauty. Accompanying the xylophones are: Endere (bamboo
(one string fiddle), Ensasi (two container rattles), Empunyi, Engalibi,
Nankasa and Embutu (drums).
Dances from Tanzania
A contemporary presentation of the hunters' music
and dance from Eastern Tanzania incorporating variety of props and
other visual elements from
Region of Africa.
Dances from Nigeria
Bata is a traditionally distinct ritual form of expression
for Shango, the Yoruba Deity of Thunder and Lightning. Bata music and
dance, mainly attached to this deity, play an essential part in the ritual
process of the worship. It serves as an important communication link
between the deity and the devotees. In Bata performances, the characteristics
of Shango are exhibited in the fast and rigorous movements.
Music by Paschal Yao Younge
A composition for axatsewo (gourd rattles). This
piece utilizes rhythmic motives, themes and structures from traditional
of the Ewes from Ghana, Togo and Benin. The presentation
combines, drumming, singing and movement.
Azagunogawo (The Divine Master Drummers)
To the African, the word "music" involves all the performing
arts combined in a very systematic and organized manner as a unique public
spectacle. To the African therefore, the drum, the voice and the dance
body speak the same language and the individual with exceptional abilities
to teach and perform all these cognate art forms is known as Azaguno,
which means a "master drummer" among the Ewe people of Ghana,
Togo Benin. We call ourselves Azaguno because we fall into this category
of very special "master drummers". This contemporary work therefore
highlights our unique name, nature and attributes.
You can only see the drums dance, the body talks and
the voice drum in this encounter.
A 36-drum percussion piece, which is based on Boboobo
and Guagunaco dance drumming. Boboobo is the
most popular social music and dance of the central and
northern Ewe of Ghana and Togo. Guaguanco
is a moderate to fast style rumba. Rumba is the
word used for a group of related music and dance
styles in Cuba. The word
is also sometimes
used to refer to a Latin-influenced ballroom
dance style that is completely different than authentic
Cuban rumba. Rumba can also refer to an African
style of pop music developed recently with Latin
This piece highlights some of the dance drumming
movements of Atsiagbekor, a war dance type
of the Anlo-Ewe of Ghana and also incorporating features of
other symbolic dances from Togo, Benin, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
This piece highlights some of the dance drumming types from across
sub-Saharan Africa. Aza (festival) is one of the unique ways most African
celebrate life. Azaguno presents this finale as a tribute to all the
Polyrhythm is a composition for seven Gankogui (double
bells). This piece is based on selected rhythmic themes (time cycles)
used in West African dance drumming. Echoes from Gabada, Boboobo, Kpatsa,
Gota, Agbadza, and Yeve, all traditional dances from West Africa are
heard throughout the piece.
3-Movement African Suite for Pan-African Chamber Orchestra
This 3-movement piece highlights the various timbres
and the four acoustic categories of instruments: idiophones, membranophones,
chordophones, and aerophones, which are used in contemporary African
music traditions. The First Movement is based on the court music of
the Akan people of Ghana, the Second movement, for seven double bells,
is derived from the rhythmic themes of Gabada, Boboobo, Kpatsa, Gota
Agbadza, and Yeve, all traditional dances from West Africa and the
Third Movement, Zong be nye rei (The Blind cannot see), is based on
the harvest music, Bawa, from the Upper West Region of Ghana.
African musical types are varied but have a lot
in common. Coexistence explores these similarities from six ethnic
groups in East and West Africa. The arrangement
is based on Nankasa of Buganda; Duoduoba of Guinea; Takai, Fontomfrom, Adowa,
and Agbadza all of Ghana
Totobli Metrov #1 - Seven movement solo suite for
Atopani Drums and 8 bells. Atopani or Atumpan is the most used
drum at the courts of chiefs in Ghana
mainly for communication. It is used to announce the arrival of chiefs
play appellations, send messages with burden texts and for dance drumming.
The atopani is therefore popularly known as the "Talking drums".
Totobli Metrov' #1 is a composition based on various rhythmic themes used in
the dance drumming of Adowa, Fontomfrom, Akpoka, Vuga and Agbadza of the Akan
and Ewe of Ghana incorporating sections of spoken texts and movement.
A contemporary duet for one percussionist and a
dancer. This work explores rhythmic concepts, structures, and themes;
and dance movements of some
traditional West African dances.
Vuga Prelude 1- 4
Multiple percussion piece for six bomaa, atumpan,
paso, adukurogya and dawuro. This is an adaptation of the Akan court
music, Fontomfrom. Fontomfrom
the most complex of all Akan musical types. It is a series of warrior
are performed to show the prowess of a valiant fighter using symbolic
gestures to mime combat motifs.
An exciting blend of West and South African dance
movements with African American step dancing, accompanied by Anlo
Ewe style drumming. The
music also incorporates
sections for multiple bells, Caribbean, Latin and Senegalese Jembe
RhythmKeepers is a reconstruction work for African,
Tap and Irish dance forms. This choreography explores the various techniques,
movements and styles of three varied contemporary dance forms accompanied
by Dagomba/Dagbamba African dance drumming
A call used to find someone lost in the bush in Australia
Cooee is an exploration of certain indigenous movements,
ideas and philosophies from both Africa and Australia.
The creation is based on the choreographer's research and experiences
in both the Volta
and Greater Accra regions of Ghana, and the states
of New South Wales and Victoria in Australia.
A multiple percussion piece, which is based on Boboobo,
Kpanlongo and Guaguanco dance drumming. Boboobo
and Kpanlongo are the most popular social dance drumming types
Ewe and Ga of Ghana and
Togo. Guaguanco is a moderate to fast style rumba.
Rumba is the word used for a group of related
music and dance styles in Cuba. The word
is also sometimes used to refer to a Latin-influenced
ballroom dance style that is completely different
than authentic Cuban rumba. Rumba
can also refer to an African style of pop music
developed recently with Latin influences
Serenity ... Backside is a fusion of West African,
South African, Ballet, Modern, Brazilian, Caribbean and
tap dance techniques