AGORO: THE DOCUMENTARY

CONTEMPORARY

INTERCULTURAL
THEATER

AFRICAN

CULTURE, HISTORY,
EXPERIENCE 

arts & culture

DRUM, VOICE,
DANCE, EPHEMERA
 

EVENTS

CONCERTS | FESTIVALS | CLASSES

 
 

ABOUT AZAGUNO

Mission


Azaguno is a colorful, vibrant, multi-ethnic ensemble that focuses on research, preservation, education, and traditional African American, Caribbean, and Latin America music and dance performance.

  1. To learn and perform African musical arts and dance as they occur in their authentic settings.

  2. To create new forms of African and African derived presentations in a new theatrical context.

  3. To create new curricula initiatives for the teaching and learning of African and African-derived musical arts and dance.

  4. To create opportunities for people worldwide to experience the musical arts and dance of the African Diaspora.

  5. To promote international programs of study in Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America.




History


Azaguno, which means "a master drummer" among the Ewe people of Ghana in West Africa, was co-founded in 2001 by Paschal Yao Younge, a native of Ghana who is currently Executive and Music Director, and Zelma Badu-Younge who is Dance Director and Choreographer. Members have trained and researched extensively in Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Morocco, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya, Côte d'Ivoire, and Togo in Africa, Australia, Cuba, France, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Canada, China, Taiwan (ROC), Hong Kong, Thailand, Korea, and the United States.




Performances


The group appeared at several national and international festivals and conferences in Canada, China, France, Germany, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, and United States. Some of the festivals include 2011 Taiwan International Percussion Convention, Seoul International Drum Festival, Taiwan International Percussion Summer Festival, Sacheon International Percussion Festival, Taiwan International Dance Festival, Lotus World Music and Arts Festival, Hsin Chu Folk Drum International Festival, Percussive Arts Society International Convention, Pan-African Historical Theater Festival, Festival International De Jazz De Montreal, Dancing on the Edge Festival, Canada Dance Festival, and France International Folkloric Festival.

The group also represented the US at the FIFA World Cup Opening Ceremony and Games in Seoul, Korea, in 2002. These experiences have enabled the group to create intense and intricate polyrhythmic sounds, mesmerizing and electrifying dance movements. Other appearances include: Taiwan International Percussion Convention, May 20-29, 2011, African Network Conference, Denison University, April 17, 2010, Workshop at the XI Biennial International, Symposium & Festival of CIMA (Center for Intercultural Music Arts at the Facultad de Educación y Humanidades of Melilla, of the Universidad of Granada: April 7-11, 2010, 
 Anderson International Festival, SC, January 29 &30, Yilan International Rain Festival in Taiwan from July 24-August 24, 2009, Lotus Blossom Festival, Bloomington, Indiana, March 23-28, 2009, 
Educational Workshop and Performance, African Music and Dance, at World 
Indigenous Peoples' Conference on Education "Respecting Traditions: Shaping the Future" the Kulin Nation, Melbourne, Australia December 7-11, Performance at the 28TH World Conference of the International Society for Music Education (ISME 2008), Bologna, Italy, July 20-25, 2008, 
Presentation at Africa Meets Asia Conference"- World Music Days - 2nd International Symposium on African and Chinese Music, Co-organized by Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing & Centre for Intercultural Musicology at Churchill College, Cambridge- 6-8 November 2007 Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing. China. The group recently premiered new works in collaboration with the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra in Hong Kong and China in November 2011l and the National Theatre of Ghana in Diema, Aza, and Agoro a Festivals and Concert of New Contemporary Music and Dance of Ghana in 2015, 2016 and 2018 respectively.




Traditional Repertoire


The ensemble specializes in a broad spectrum of musical styles ranging from work-based dances to ritualistic ones representing East, West, Central, and Southern Africa. Through hard work, dedication, research, and training, the ensemble now boasts of an extensive repertoire of traditional dances from Côte d'Ivoire, 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, etc.



SELECTED TRADITIONAL MUSIC AND DANCE

  • Abodan is a social dance-drumming ceremony of the Agni ethnic group from Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa.

  • Agbadza is among the oldest musical types performed by the Southern Ewe of Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Southwestern Nigeria, Agbadza is derived from an older war dance known as Atrikpui. As social and recreational music and dance, its performance is open to everybody in the community, irrespective of class, age, sex, and religion. Other varieties of this musical type 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's performance: 1. Banyinyi- a short introductory piece is performed as a prayer to the gods and the ancestors, 2. Vutsotso- the main dance section, 3. Adzo- a less-vigorous dance section, during which only the master drum, Sogo, accompanied by Gakogui and Axatse, are used, 4. Hatsatsa- song cycle, during which topical, historical, philosophical, and reflective songs are performed, accompanied by Gakogui and Atoke, 5. Vutsotso- 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. 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 were having problems with "Dating." Therefore, the young men and women were compelled to participate in this music and dance so that they can gather some tips to help them in real-life situations.

  • Adowa is the most widespread and frequently performed as a social dance of the Akan people of Ghana. The Akans are in Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Bono, Eastern, 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 perform handle the musical instruments. This dance is performed at funerals, yearly festivals, 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.

  • Alangey was initially a ritual dance of the Nanumba of Northern Ghana. It is presently performed as a social dance among the various ethnic groups of Dagbon, predominantly the Dagbamba.

  • Atsiagbekor is among the oldest traditional dances of the Ewe-speaking people of Southern Ghana, Togo, and Benin. Initially, a war dance performed after a 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 are timed to precisely match the drum rhythms" (Locke, 1978). Atsiagbekor's songs constitute a vital heritage of Ewe oral tradition. Most of the songs contain historical references to their chiefs, war leaders, migration stories, themes relating to the invincibility of the Ewes against their enemies, themes of loyalty, bravery, and death, etc. Thus, to watch an Atsiagbekor performance today in Ghana is to watch scenes, which may have their actual origins in battles the Ewes fought when they trekked through hostile countries searching for peace.

  • Atsokla is one of the movements of Adzogbo music and dance ceremony. Adzogbo originated from Benin as a dzohu (spiritual/religious music and dance). 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 the 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. However, its performance is now limited to a few communities in Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions. Like other popular entertainment music, which evolves from the ingenuity of some veteran traditional musicians, Asaadua started as youth recreational music for the men of the Akan tradition.

  • Baakisimba: Sematimba Ne Kikwabanga and Olutalu: Baakisimba is the royal music for the Kabaka (king) of the Buganda of Uganda. Two main types of log xylophones are found among the Baganda of Uganda and are played in the enclosure 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 performed for the King (Kabaka). In range, the akadinda extends beyond the amadinda, especially in the upper register. Three musicians play on the amadinda, while the akadinda involves three to six players. Both xylophone styles are based on interlocking melodies that are performed in octave duplications. The individual parts are often relatively simple, but their combination yields music of extreme complexity and beauty. Accompanying the xylophones are Endere (bamboo flute), Endigidi (one-string fiddle), Ensasi (two container rattles), Empunyi, Engalibi, Nankasa, and Embutu (drums).

  • Babasiko is recreational music and dance of the Southeastern Anlo Ewe of Ghana, performed chiefly at social gatherings, festivals, and funerals. Babasiko is flirtatious in character. Its characteristic form is the strutting and bobbing up and down and a display of theatrical elegance. The dancers portray courtship through movements of the arms, eyes, and full facial expressions. Proposals of intimacy are accepted or rejected through bodily gestures.

  • 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.

  • Baamaaya, meaning "The river (valley) is wet," is the most popular social music and dance (recreational dance-drumming) among the inhabitants of Dagbon` of Northern Ghana. The history of this classical dance which started as religious musical performance, underscores the philosophy and culture of the Dagbamba/Dagomba towards women. Baamaaya now functions during funerals, festivals, and national day celebrations. Baamaaya has developed into a ceremony with at least nine distinct phases, including Baamaaya Sochendi, Sikolo, Kondoliya, from a processional dance-drumming that started slow and changed to a fast tempo Dakolikutooko, Abalimbee, and others. Each of the phases has a unique set of dance routines, movements, and choreography. Instruments used include Gungon (a) master drum (s) - double-headed cylindrical drum), Lunna (si), supporting drum(s) - hourglass-shaped drums, Siyalim- container rattles, and Wia- notched flute.

  • 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 worship. In addition, it serves as a vital communication link between God and the devotees. In Bata performances, the characteristics of Shango are exhibited in the fast and rigorous movements.

  • Bewa (Bawaa) Baamaaya, meaning "The river (valley) is wet," is the most popular social music and dance of the Dagbamba of Northern Ghana. It began as a religious musical performance, but now functions during funerals, festivals, national day celebrations, and other social occasions. Dancing the Baamaaya requires a lot 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, Baamaaya is for both genders.

  • Boboobo: The joy on achieving Independence in Ghana was expressed in various ways by the country's entire populace. This "new life" envisaged resulted in the emergence of several new musical types. These unique creations relating to the "freedom" to through the said independence have roots in the popular Ghanaian Highlife. Boboobo is one of such musical creations of the period 1947 - 1957. Also known as Agbeyeye or Akpese, Boboobo originated from Kpando in the Volta Region of Ghana through the late Francis 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. Boboobo is seen at funerals and other social occasions. Boboobo music and dance ceremony are syncretic, and it is performed principally in a circular formation.

  • Boloye is a sacred mask dance-drumming of the Senoufo ethnic group from the northern part of Côte d'Ivoire. Boloye appears in festivities marking the end of initiation rites for boys and girls. Today, because of its popularity, some aspects of the dance are allowed in various social ceremonies. The name "Panthers Mask" is now associated with Boloye because of the acrobat movements and costumes imitating panthers.

  • Fankani is 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 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 performed in religious, ceremonial, and social contexts at chiefs' courts.

  • Gadzo is a war-dance drama of the southeastern Anlo Ewe of Ghana, which came from Notsie in Togo. Initially, this music and dance were 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 music and dance ceremony emanated from the musical traditions associated with marriage rites of the Yoruba people of southwestern Nigeria, precisely, Badagri. It is now recreational music performed in some southeastern Ewe communities in Ghana, Togo, and Benin on occasions such as marriage and wedding ceremonies, festivals, funerals, and other social events. Gahu dance ceremony is organized in four main movements or sections: ayodede/ayoo (greetings and prayers to the ancestors), two vutsotso (main fast dance drumming), interspersed with hatsiatsia (songs accompanied by bells and rattles with limited dramatic dance movements).

  • Gota originated from the Kabre tribe of Benin, and was introduced to the Southeastern Ewe in the early nineteenth century through trade. Initially performed in Benin for their war god, Gota is now performed as 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 Accra fishermen introduced from the Fernando Po Islands in the early eighteenth century. Originally, Gome was performed exclusively by fishermen after their expeditions to celebrate their catch. However, other occupational groups, especially artisans, eventually adopted this music and dance as 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 are performed by the people of Nyamebekyere in the Akwapim Traditional Area of the Eastern Region of Ghana. On one Christmas day, some young boys in the village went to the bamboo grove (situated near a river) to cut some bamboo stalks for their traditional annual fireworks. During the process of cutting, a piece of bamboo stalk fell into the river. After retrieving this piece of bamboo, one of the boys struck it against a nearby rock. The "melodious" sound from this bamboo stem came as a surprise to all the boys. So, instead of the fireworks, they cut the bamboo to various lengths, which they then used in making music. This gave birth to the Gyewani Bamboo music and dance. Bamboo music is 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 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.

  • Isukuti: This dance is from the Kakamega people of the Luhyia ethnic group of the western province of Kenya. It is performed mainly during festivities and ceremonies associated with a wedding, child naming, bullfight, and commemoration of new homes. Most of the songs emphasize and praise the heroes and leaders of the communities.

  • Jembe Don is a social dance drumming of Odienné from the northwestern Mande region of Côte d'Ivoire. This is one of the original dances associated with the Djembe drum. It is presently performed at weddings, festivals, and other social gatherings.

  • Jera (Jara) was initially religious music and dance of the Kparibas in Dagbon, performed before and after hunting expeditions. It is now performed by most Dagbamba villages in Northern Ghana on diverse social occasions: festivals, funerals, and for recreation after a hard day's work. The religious costume is, however, retained.

  • Kassa: 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 a hunter, and the dance is a tribute to them. Thus, some of the dance movements are symbolic gestures to these essential members of the Mande culture.

  • Kete started in the royal courts of traditional Akan communities. It is performed in the courts of every chief whose status entitles him to be carried in a palanquin. The music, therefore, can be heard on state occasions and festivals. There are three parts of the performance: Drum music, pipe interludes, and 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, its usual context, function, or general character, by name commemorative of an event, or by name indicative of the participants. Adaban, also called Topre, is used when the chief has to perform the ceremonial "shooting dance." Apente is primarily used for processions.

  • Kpanlongo is the most recent of all Ga recreational dance drumming musical types, an offshoot of "Gome, Oge, Kolomashie, and Konkoma." Kpanlongo emerged during the wake of Ghana's Independence as a dance-drumming musical type for entertainment in Accra, mainly for the youth. Hence, this performance is described as "the dance of the youth." Kpanlongo is presently performed at various social and political events in Ghana.

  • Koredjouka is a social dance-drumming ceremony from Conakry, Guinea.

  • Kpatsa is the principal traditional entertainment music and dance of the Dangme of Ghana in West Africa. The dance itself involves sideways and forward shuffling movements, making use of short, brisk steps with the body slightly bent. The dance steps move the dancer either diagonally or backward. With arms bent in front of the body, the right leg steps in concert with the movement of the right arm while the left leg steps at the same time as the left arm; while one foot remains flat on the ground, the heel of the other foot is lifted off the ground.

  • Klama music and dance are 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 mothercraft. 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 are performed as part of the annual Kundum festival of the Ahanta and Nzema people of Ghana, originated in famine and hunger around 1700. Although traditionally harvest music and dance, Kundum is now 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 movements, strutting movements of the body. The act of "plucking" in the fields is dramatized in the Kundum dance.

  • Malivata is a contemporary presentation of the hunters' music and dance from Eastern Tanzania incorporating various props and other visual elements from the Southern Region of Africa.

  • Mbende (Shona word for "mole" was regarded as a symbol of fertility, sexuality, and family). This dance drumming, also known as Jerusarem comes from the Zezuru people of western Mashobaland of Zimbabwe. Originally, Mbende was performed exclusively during the 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

  • Mshago is 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 grinding millet style, emphasizing the shoulder and waist with particular accentuation of the upper torso.

  • Nagla is a dance performed by the Kasena Nankeni people of Paga and Navrongo in the Upper East Region of Ghana. It was performed at funerals in the olden days, but today, even though it still maintains this function, it can also be seen on most social occasions, excluding marriage ceremonies. Movements in Nagla reflect the spirit of togetherness.

  • Nmane is a 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 used in this celebration relate to topical, human, marriage, and other social issues.

  • Sabar is the primary form of the drumming of the Wolof of Senegal. Traditionally, Sabar drumming was used in religious ceremonies. However, in modern settings, Sabar is primarily used for various dance-drumming events. The Sabar ensemble includes the m'bung m'bung, sabar n'der, lambe, and talmbat gorong drums. This arrangement demonstrates the two basic musical structures used in Sabar drumming, "bak" and "mbalax." Bak, 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.

  • Sanga is one of the recreational dance drumming of the Ashanti-Akan. Instruments used in this ensemble and their specific rhythmic motives suggest northern Ghana, Dagbamba origins. The dance may be called a "chase." Its characteristic form is the strutting and bobbing up and down and a display of theatrical elegance. The women dancers wear bustles to attract and at the same time tease the men dancers.

  • Sikyi is 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 as Kpanlongo of the Ga of Accra and Boboobo of the Northern Ewe of the Volta Region of Ghana. Sikyi is seen principally at social gatherings where the youth solely express themselves in courtship. It is flirtatious. Its characteristic form is the strutting and bobbing up and down and a display of theatrical elegance.

  • Sinte is a dance drumming performed during festivals by the Nalou who live around the Boke region of Guinea. Krins, "wooden slit drums" sometimes played by three percussionists on each drum, were the original instruments to accompany this dance. Djembes and dunduns are now used to perform the instrumental parts formerly played on the krins.

  • Soko is Malinke initiation music, and dance from the Faranah region in Guinea performed during the months preceding the male rite of circumcision. Boys, who will be circumcised, traditionally will have their heads shaved during the performance.

  • Sunu is a welcome ceremony of the Malenke people from the border region between Guinea and Mali in West Africa. This music is performed during traditional festivals such as Ramadan, Tabaseki, weddings, and other social occasions.

  • 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.

  • Triba is performed by the Laduma, who live in the Boke and Boffa regions of Guinea. Triba was once a dance performed in honor of a great dancer called Triba. The dance was later associated with puberty rites for young adults during which mothers and their daughters would dance together. Triba is presently performed as a mixed dance– drumming by men and women during festivals and other social events.

  • Wali shows work dances that are popular in the regions of Guinea in West Africa. Wali is performed in two sections, Koukou and Triba. Koukou is a Malinke dance from the Guinean highlands. It is a work dance for young men and women. Triba is from the Landouma of mid-Guinea; it is performed to celebrate their rice harvest.

  • 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 historical relations with the Yoruba Shango deity of Nigeria and Fon Xevieso of Benin. Yeve music and dance are distinct from other Ewe musical types because of their general structure. Yeve is a suite of seven to nine dance forms or movements. Each movement is related to specific phases of worship. The primary dance forms or movements include Sovu, Husago, Sogbadze, Afovu, and Adavu. Dances from Guinea and Senegal.

  • Zahouly is a mask of the Dje La Lou. It is used in a traditional mask dance-drumming ceremony by the Guru (Gouro) ethnic group from Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa.






Contemporary Repertoire


SELECTED CONTEMPOARAY WORKS

  • African Meets Asia I: Collaborative duet with Zelma Badu-Younge & Yuju Wei, Music by Paschal Younge. Asian dance movement, Chinese classical and folk dance forms derived from Chinese opera, martial arts and temple dances; African movements from Ghanaian - Ewe Gadzo and Adzogbo dance ceremonies with Mande Dance styles from Guinea and Senegal.

  • Aklala: is based on two Southern Anlo Ewe Atrikpui and Afa songs: Aklala me dor and Sawolie. Realized in a typical Sonata or first-movement form, a musical structure that is mostly associated with the first movement of various Western string quartets, concertos, symphonies and others. Aklala follows three main standard sections: Exposition, Development. Recapitulation with a brief introduction and a coda.

  • Aklala (Unplugged): Symphonic Music for Orchestra and Dance. Aklala is based on two Southern Anlo Ewe Atrikpui and Afa songs: Aklala me ma dor and Sawolie. Realized in a typical Sonata or first-movement form, a musical structure that is mostly associated with the first movement of various Western string quartets, concertos, symphonies and others. Aklala follows three main standard sections: Exposition,Development. Recapitulation with a brief introduction and a coda. The piece has been rearranged with steel drums, vibraphone timpani, traditional Agbadza percussion ensemble with chorus added. AKLALA the Dance – “African Art in Motion” a New creation for the National Theatre of Ghana’s 25th Anniversary Celebration - Finale. Explores both western and African Classical and Contemporary art in motion. Including the creation and mixture of traditional cloth and recycled plastic materials by Zelma Badu- Younge.

  • Akpese Party is a 36-drum percussion piece, 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 term is also sometimes used to refer to a Latin-influenced ballroom dance style entirely different from authentic Cuban rumba. Rumba can also refer to an African kind of pop music developed recently with Latin influences.

  • Atsia-Aza: This piece highlights some of the dance drumming movements of Atsiagbekor, a war dance type of the Anlo-Ewe of Ghana, and incorporating features of other symbolic dances from Togo, Benin, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.

  • Axatsewu: Music by Paschal Yao Younge: Axatsewu is a composition for axatsewo (gourd rattles). This piece utilizes rhythmic motives, themes, and structures from traditional dances of the Ewes from Ghana, Togo, and Benin. The presentation combines drumming, singing, and movement.

  • Aza! highlights some of the dance drumming types from across sub-Saharan Africa. Aza (festival) is one of the unique ways most African communities celebrate life. Azaguno presents this finale as a tribute to all the African people.

  • 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 dancing 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 exceptional "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.

  • Coexistence: 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.

  • Co-existence: A reconstructed Pan-African Ensemble piece for Symphony Orchestra and Dance derived from the Xhosa & Zulu of South Africa’s philosophy of co-existence. This piece features 32 master drummers and incorporates rhythmic and melodic structures from several dance-drumming ceremonies from the Caribbean, Americas, several regions of Africa and the African Diaspora, highlighting Atsiagbekor, Adowa, Dounoumba, Fontomfrom, Tora drumming ceremonies. The accompanying dance explores indigenous and contemporary movements, ideas and philosophies of the Africa, Americas, Caribbean, Latin, and others

  • Conversation: The Conversation is a composition of interwoven textures for Eight Dondo (Talking drums) of the Dagbamba of Ghana.

  • Cooee: A call used to find someone lost in the bush in Australia. Cooee is an exploration of specific 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.

  • Corrobooree: A 18- minute composition written for Diema 2015 in Ghana. Performed by The National Dance Company of Ghana, NOYAM Contemporary Dance, and Azaguno. Original Choreography by Zelma Badu-Younge World Premiere at The National Theatre of Ghana, Accra, Ghana (3 performances, June 18-20)

  • Creole Africaine: Creole Africaine is 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 Djembe style music.

  • Fire: A multiple percussion piece for seven bongos, kpanlongo drums, Atsimevu, and several cowbells

  • Gede Nibo (Vodu Spirit of the Dead) Dance: Duet developed into group piece. Re-choreographed and expanded to included 14 dancers. Gede Nibo is a contemporary Caribbean work based on Haitian, Trinidadian and Jamaican Dance techniques. Music: Gede Nibo Classical Haitian Music by Ludovic Lamothe. Arranged for Mixed Chorus by Steen Kallman, Percussion: Paschal Younge, Performed by 120 Member Youth Choir Ashiaman ARS, OSU, La Paz & Bi-Tonic Singers. Percussion: National Dance Co. & Azaguno

  • Ghana Meets Asia: This was originally a composition for multiple world percussion instruments: "African, 
Caribbean and Asian instruments". This western symphony orchestral version, which was completed in November of 2014, is a special composition for the National Symphony Orchestra
of Ghana. This work explores, juxtaposes and blends Ghanaian and other African "music", 
dance and visual art forms and structures with other global ideas. The piece therefore
utilizes melodies, rhythmic concepts and forms from several traditional dance and drumming ceremonies from Ghana in addition to ideas and concepts from Chinese court and temple music, Japanese Taiko drumming, Korean Samulnori. This piece was recently premiered in Ghana as
part of DIEMA, a celebration of Contemporary Ghanaian Music and Dance, the first
collaboration of its kind organized by Ghana National Theatre's two prestigious companies
(The National Dance Company of Ghana and National Symphony Orchestra Ghana) Azaguno, and Ohio University. International artists from the United States, Canada, and China in addition to several of Ghana's own nationally and internationally recognized groups performed seven World Premieres of my Contemporary African Orchestral Music including "Ghana Meets Asia"

  • Ghana Meets the World: A 45 - minute –composition written as the Finale for Diema 2015 in Ghana. The three movement work, Gule Koa, Agbodzalu and Logo Azagu was performed by The National Symphony Orchestra of Ghana, National Dance Company of Ghana, NOYAM Contemporary Dance, Faculty from University of Ghana, Dance department, Azaguno.

  • Gbogbomenuwo (Spiritual Things): Solo Work; Original Music: Africa Meets Asia; Specially composed for Dr. Zelma Badu-Younge's Choreography, Performed on Feb 4-5, Studio 303, Montreal, QU Canada.

  • Kumanaka, Music for Timpani and African Bells: Kumanaka is multi-percussion piece for Timpani and three Ghanaian bells: Gakogui, double bell and Two Atoke, slit bell. Timpani, a tuned kettle set of drums evolved from military drums to become a staple of the classical orchestra by the last third of the 18th century. Pitches of the various drums, usually three or four of varying sizes are fine-tuned by tightening the drumhead with keys and foot pedals. Kumanaka is based on manipulations of rhythmic motives, themes and structures from Northern Ewe, Gabada, Adevu, and other cross-sets of rhythmic patterns found in several court and religious dances of the Akan, Ga and Ewe.

  • Liminality – Between Movement & Language: An exploration into the beauty of World Languages, Dance and Music focusing on distinct auditory and movement aesthetics of Ghana, S.Korea, Israel, Thailand, China, Russia, Botswana, Kenya, India, France and the United States.

  • Logo Azagu is Three Musical Movements and Choreographic vignettes (Gu le Koa, Agbodzalu and Logo Azagu), which explores, juxtaposes and blends the music dance and expressive arts of Africa and the world. The music composition “utilizes ideas and concepts from Chinese court and temple music, Japanese Taiko drumming, Korean Samulnori, Ghanaian Ashanti Fontomfrom and Ewe Adzogbo dance drumming. The choreography is based on several Chinese, Korean and Indian classical/folk dance forms derived from Chinese opera, martial arts and temple dances and others. The African dance components come from Ghanaian Ewe - Gadzo, Atsiagbekor and Adzogbo; Dagbamba – Takai, and Akan dance ceremonies with other ideas from Mande dance styles from Guinea and Senegal in addition to warrior dances from South Africa.

  • Mother Ghana Suite is a 3-movement symphonic suite, which is based on traditional compositional structures, and techniques that permeate the music and dance traditions of the Ewe of West Africa. The work, therefore, utilizes many rhythmic and melodic motives, concepts and idioms of several dance-drumming ceremonies. 1st Movt. Soviagbade: This movement is based on the phases or stages of worship of the Yeve deity. Yeve is
believed to a "Stone or Thunder Deity" that fall from the sky during or after a rainstorm. 
The cult is one of the most powerful and secretive among the cults in the southern Ewe territories of West Africa. Yeve is also known among the Anlo Ewe as Hu or Tohono. Yeve also has strong historical relations with the Shango of the Yoruba, Nigeria and Xebieso of the
Fon, Benin. The major dance forms used include Sovu, Husago, Afovu and Adavu. 2nd Movt. Sawolie: explores the themes and structures in Afa divination dance drumming ceremonies in a "reggae style" for orchestra and mixed chorus. Afa "Ifa" is the most popular and highly developed system of divination in West Africa, especially among the Yoruba of Nigeria, the Fon of Benin and the southeastern Ewe of Ghana and Togo. 3rd Movt. Gahu: The Third Movement is based on Gahu, a recreational dance drumming ceremony of the Southeastern Ewe of Ghana, incorporating elements from Agbadza song cycle "hatsiatsia". Gahu emanated from the musical traditions associated with marriage and wedding rites of the Yoruba of Nigeria. This historic origin can be seen today in the rich Yoruba costumes worn by dancers.

  • 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.

  • Polyrhythms: Polyrhythms is a composition for seven Gakogui (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.

  • Polyrhythms, Music for Multiple Gakogui (Double bells): Polyrhythms for double bells, is based on selected rhythmic themes (time cycles) used in Ghanaian dance-drumming ceremonies. Echoes from Gabada, Boboobo, Kpatsa, Gota, Agbadza, and Yeve, all traditional dances from West Africa are heard throughout the piece.

  • RhythmKeepers: 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.

  • See the Music! Hear the Dance!: This work for Symphony Orchestra and Dance is based on Borankana, one of the most celebrated traditional dance-drumming ceremonies of Botswana. Borankana originating from the Bakwena of South West Botswana is a Setswana term for “traditional entertainment” that includes Setlhako and Sephumuso rhythmic themes, motives, songs and dance movements focusing on “stepping”. The African concept of “music” as total and interdisciplinary art form with no distinction between musical sound structures and movements is seen in the dialogue among the dancers, percussionists and orchestra. Choreography by Zelma Badu-Younge

  • Serenity... Backside!: Serenity Backside is a fusion of West African, South African, Ballet, Modern, Brazilian, Caribbean, and tap dance techniques.

  • Taking Flight is a new contemporary African music and dance dedicated to President Roderick J. McDavis of Ohio University on his first official visit to Ghana in 2010.

  • The Struggle Ahead – Life is Short Collaboration: Zelma Badu-Younge & Francis Nii Yartey (Dir: NOYAM/National Dance Company of Ghana); Solo, by Zelma Badu-Younge; Music: Okum by Nigerian Composer Joshua Uzoigwe, Perf.by Concert Pianist Dr. William Chapman Nyaho (piano) & Master Drummer Dr. Paschal Yao Younge (bata drums). A Dedication Ohio Univ. Prof. Esiaba Irobi.

  • Totobli Metrov #1: Totobli Metrov #1 is a seven-movement suite for Atopani Drums and eight 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 at gatherings, plays appellations, sends messages with burden texts, and 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.

  • Totob Metrov: Totob Metrov is a contemporary duet for one percussionist and a dancer. This work explores rhythmic concepts, structures, themes, and dance movements of traditional West African dances.

  • Ukuhlalisana – Co-existence (Xhosa & Zulu): A Pan-African Ensemble piece for Symphony Orchestra and Dance derived from the Xhosa & Zulu of South Africa’s philosophy of co-existence. This piece features 32 master drummers and incorporates rhythmic and melodic structures from several dance-drumming ceremonies from the Caribbean, Americas, several regions of Africa and the African Diaspora, highlighting Atsiagbekor, Adowa, Doudoumba, Fontomfrom, Tora drumming ceremonies. The accompanying dance explores indigenous and contemporary movements, ideas and philosophies of the Africa, Americas, Caribbean, Latin, and others.

  • Vuga Prelude 1- 4: Multiple percussion piece for six bomaa, atumpan, paso, adukurogya and dawuro. This work is an adaptation of the Akan court music, Fontomfrom. Fontomfrom is the most complex of all Akan musical types. It is a series of warrior dances performed to show the prowess of a fearless fighter using symbolic gestures to mime combat motifs.




Programs


Concerts

The ensemble is available for 1-2 hour-long concerts. Programming for shows may vary depending on the specific occasion. A typical African drumming and dance concert features traditional dances from Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, in addition to our new contemporary creations. Other programs celebrating the African Diaspora feature in addition to the above styles expressions from the Caribbean, North and Latin America

Educational Workshops

These activities are at different levels. K-12, High Schools and College/University levels in addition to Teacher Development Workshops


K-12 Activities

  • Experiencing African music and dance through Dalcroze and Orff methods

  • Experiencing African music and dance through Games

  • Interactive storytelling

  • Experiencing African visual arts: masks and adinkra symbols

High Schools

  • Sessions for a band, choir, orchestra, and other ensembles

  • Experiencing African Music and dance through the Alcate Pedagogy

  • African drumming and dance master classes- hands-on activities

  • Special lecture demonstrations

  • Step dance masterclasses

  • Jazz dance masterclasses

  • 3-Day residencies culminating in a 1-hour command concert

College/Universities

  • African drumming and dance master classes- hands-on activities

  • Special Lecture Workshops

  • 3 - 7 Day residencies culminating in 2-hour command concert

  • Afro-Cuban drumming and dance master classes- hands-on activities

  • Step dance masterclasses

  • Jazz dance masterclasses

  • Latin drumming and dance master classes - hands-on activities

Teacher Development Workshops

  • Curriculum Development - Teaching Strategies - Hands-on Sessions

  • Experiencing African concepts and ideas about rhythm

  • Experiencing African Music and dance through Dalcroze and Orff methods

  • Choruses from the African Diaspora and Movement

  • Social Studies and the Arts

  • Children's games as instructional tools for teaching music

  • African drumming and dance master classes- hands-on activities

Other programs are available for professional groups-Percussionists, Dancers, and other Theatrical Artists.

How to Schedule Programs

  1. Program Fees: This varies depending on the nature of activities and travel involved.

  2. Scheduling: Programs are scheduled at least four months in advance on first-come. first-served basis

  3. Billing and Payment: A confirmation letter, contract, and invoice will be sent before the program. Payment is expected following the program or otherwise arranged.





MEET THE DIRECTORS

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ZELMA BADU-YOUNGE
PASCHAL YAO YOUNGE

MEET THE ARTISTS

Mike Ramsey

Mike Ramsey is a Brooklyn based drummer & percussionist. Broadway credits include The Lion King, Ain’t Too Proud, and many others. Orchestral credits include The Philadelphia Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic, etc. Music for dance groups AZAGUNO, Oyu Oro Afro-Cuban, Camille A. Brown & Dancers, etc.

 

MUSICIAN | PERCUSSIONIST

Years with Azaguno: 20

Mike Ramsey is a Brooklyn based drummer & percussionist. Broadway credits include The Lion King, Ain’t Too Proud, and many others. Orchestral credits include The Philadelphia Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic, etc. Music for dance groups AZAGUNO, Oyu Oro Afro-Cuban, Camille A. Brown & Dancers, etc.

Fountain is the music director at Our Savior Lutheran Church and School in St. Petersburg, Florida. He is a graduate from West Virginia University. In 2006, he worked at Mannette Instruments in Morgantown, WV. Eric has been a member of Azaguno since 2002.

 

DANCER | MUSICIAN | PERCUSSIONIST

Years with Azaguno: 20
 

Fountain is the music director at Our Savior Lutheran Church and School in St. Petersburg, Florida. He is a graduate from West Virginia University. In 2006, he worked at Mannette Instruments in Morgantown, WV. Eric has been a member of Azaguno since 2002. For more info checkout www.osls.org.

Whitney Jacobs is a dance educator, choreographer and performer. She holds a BFA and a MFA in Dance, and her choreography has been presented at numerous venues throughout NYC/NJ. Jacobs is full time faculty at The Brearley School, NYC, and teaches dance and physical education grades K-12.

 

DANCER

Years with Azaguno: 18
 

Whitney Jacobs is a dance educator, choreographer and performer. She holds a BFA and a MFA in Dance, and her choreography has been presented at numerous venues throughout NYC/NJ. Jacobs is full time faculty at The Brearley School, NYC, and teaches dance and physical education grades K-12.

Keith Moone holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from West Virginia University and was mentored by Dr. Ellie Mannette. Mr. Moone is part owner of Seven City Steel Drums LLC, a company that specializes in Steel Pan(drum) manufacturing. Keith has been a member of Azaguno since 2005.

Keith Moone

 

MUSICIAN | PERCUSSIONIST

Years with Azaguno: 16
 

Keith Moone holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from West Virginia University and was mentored by Dr. Ellie Mannette. Mr. Moone is part owner of Seven City Steel Drums LLC, a company that specializes in Steel Pan(drum) manufacturing. Keith has been a member of Azaguno since 2005.

Brittany graduated from the Ohio University in 2011 with a B.S. in Exercise Physiology. Brittany earned her doctorate in physical therapy from Marshall University School of Physical Therapy in May, 2020. She currently practices at King’s Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, KY.

 

DANCER

Years with Azaguno: 13

 

Brittany graduated from the Ohio University in 2011 with a B.S. in Exercise Physiology. Brittany earned her doctorate in physical therapy from Marshall University School of Physical Therapy in May, 2020. She currently practices at King’s Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, KY.

Dr. Kristofer Olsen is an Assistant Professor of Arts Education in the Department of Education at Montana State University. Originally from Havre, Montana, he received his BA in Music Ed. and Math Ed. from St. Olaf College, MM from West Virginia University and PhD from Ohio University.

 

MUSICIAN | PERCUSSIONIST

Years with Azaguno: 13

 

Dr. Kristofer Olsen is an Assistant Professor of Arts Education in the Department of Education at Montana State University. Originally from Havre, Montana, he received his BA in Music Ed. and Math Ed. from St. Olaf College, MM from West Virginia University and PhD from Ohio University.

Keith Moone holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from West Virginia University and was mentored by Dr. Ellie Mannette. Mr. Moone is part owner of Seven City Steel Drums LLC, a company that specializes in Steel Pan(drum) manufacturing. Keith has been a member of Azaguno since 2005.

 

DANCER

Years with Azaguno: 12

 

Mia started dancing at Factory Street Studio in Athens, OH at a young age focusing on modern, ballet, jazz and CKC (Creative Kids Company) and has thus expanded her dance repertoire to include African dance. On top of dancing, Mia is a mom and wife and has been working in real estate for 16+ yrs.

Dr. Jennifer Petrie-Wyman is the Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh. She focuses on global leadership, business and ethics, and development in Africa presenting and publishing nationally and internationally.

 

DANCER

Years with Azaguno: 11
 

Dr. Jennifer Petrie-Wyman is the Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh. She focuses on global leadership, business and ethics, and development in Africa presenting and publishing nationally and internationally.

John Meriwether is a percussionist living in Colorado and touring with Azaguno internationally.

John Meriwether is a percussionist living in Colorado and touring with Azaguno internationally.

John Meriwether

 

MUSICIAN | PERCUSSIONIST

Years with Azaguno: 10
 

John Meriwether is a percussionist living in Colorado and touring with Azaguno internationally.

Michael Ofori is an actor, director, musician and educator. He is currently a Visiting Lecturer Acting and Directing at Mount Holyoke College’s Film Media Theatre Department. In the Boston area, Michael spends his time acting, directing and playing music with his Afro-fusion band, Kotoko Brass.

Michael Ofori

 

MUSICIAN | PERCUSSIONIST

Years with Azaguno: 10
 

Mustapha brings life-long passion with two decades of international experience and acclaim to his roles as artist and scholar. Born and raised in Ghana, he is Assistant Professor of Dance at Goucher College, Maryland. He holds an M.F.A. in Dance, an M.A. in African Studies, and a B.F.A. in Dance.

Mustapha brings life-long passion with two decades of international experience and acclaim to his roles as artist and scholar. Born and raised in Ghana, he is Assistant Professor of Dance at Goucher College, Maryland. He holds an M.F.A. in Dance, an M.A. in African Studies, and a B.F.A. in Dance.

 

DANCER | MUSICIAN | PERCUSSIONIST

Years with Azaguno: 9
 

A dance educator, choreographer, and performer who envisions’ his work as a re-contextualization of traditions, with focus on dance theatre and contemporary Africa dance. Nii-Tete has choreographed and directed at both National and international levels. He holds a Diploma, BFA and M.F.A.

Nii-Tete Yartey

 

SPECIAL GUEST ARTIST 

Years with Azaguno: 7
 

A dance educator, choreographer, and performer who envisions’ his work as a re-contextualization of traditions, with focus on dance theatre and contemporary Africa dance. Nii-Tete has choreographed and directed at both National and international levels. He holds a Diploma, BFA and M.F.A.

Ryan is a classically trained percussionist and music educator with a passion for non-western music, with experience in traditions from Ghana, Uganda, and Japan, among others. He is currently based in Detroit, MI, sharing his love of music in private music lessons and with his middle schoolers.

 

MUSICIAN | PERCUSSIONIST

Years with Azaguno: 7
 

Ryan is a classically trained percussionist and music educator with a passion for non-western music, with experience in traditions from Ghana, Uganda, and Japan, among others. He is currently based in Detroit, MI, sharing his love of music in private music lessons and with his middle schoolers.

Dr. Erik Forst is the Director of Percussion Studies at Messiah University, where he oversees all aspects of the Percussion Area. He has performed as a soloist extensively throughout the United Sates, Asia, and Africa. He is an artist for Vic Firth, Zildjian Cymbals, and Marimba One marimbas

 

MUSICIAN | PERCUSSIONIST

Years with Azaguno: 5
 

Dr. Erik Forst is the Director of Percussion Studies at Messiah University, where he oversees all aspects of the Percussion Area. He has performed as a soloist extensively throughout the United Sates, Asia, and Africa. He is an artist for Vic Firth, Zildjian Cymbals, and Marimba One marimbas

Gabriela Meriwether hails from Colorado and tours with Azaguno internationally.

Gabriela Meriwether can be seen performing in the pit orchestra at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse and playing with Sunday 5 Winds. Gabriela runs a private flute studio where she teaches beginners to advanced students of any age.

 

FLUTIST | MUSICIAN

Years with Azaguno: 3
 

John Meriwether is a percussionist living in Colorado and touring with Azaguno internationally.

 

DANCER

Years with Azaguno: 3

 

Ishmael Konney is a performer and choreographer from Ghana. He is currently in his 2nd year at The Ohio State University pursuing a MFA in Dance. His multidisciplinary performances draw upon his training in theatre and music, and he describes his work as an abstraction of Ghanaian music and dance.

John Meriwether is a percussionist living in Colorado and touring with Azaguno internationally.

Abubarkari Meirigah Salifu

Abubarkari Meirigah Salifu recently retired as a senior male dancer and musician of the Ghana Dance Ensemble (National Dance Company) after 30 years. He is a virtuoso on the Gonje (one-stringed fiddle) which he inherited from his royal family in the Northern region of Ghana.

 

DANCER | MUSICIAN | GONJE ARTIST

Years with Azaguno: 3

 

John Meriwether is a percussionist living in Colorado and touring with Azaguno internationally.

Julie Cruse performed with Azaguno as a dancer, musician and percussionist from 2003 to 2007, and as a guest artist in 2011. She now serves as digital content extraordinaire: website designer, social media advisor, and general "glitzer-upper" to support and represent Azaguno's mission.

 

DIRECTOR, DIGITAL CONTENT

APPRENTICES & MORE

Apprentices


Zoe Miller (4th-year apprentice): dancer and choreographer, received her BFA in Dance Performance & Choreography and a certificate in Women’s Gender/Sexuality Studies from Ohio University. Zoe has had the honor of dancing with Azaguno for four years and is currently pursuing an MFA in Choreography at the University of Iowa.

Gcinile Shongwe (3rd-year apprentice): is pursuing Marketing and Business Analytics majors and a Dance minor at Ohio University. She has performed in several Ohio University Winter Dance and World Music and Dance Concerts. She also had the privilege of performing with the Ghana Dance Ensemble at the National Theatre of Ghana in 2018.

  • Anna Stover (first-year apprentice): Anna Stover is a senior at Ohio University, pursuing a B.A in Dance, a B.S in Geography, and a certificate in Geographic Information Science. She spent 8 years training in dance at Factory Street Studio. She continued to pursue dance at Ohio University exploring modern dance and choreography.




Returning members


Azaguno members become part of our life-long family, which is always growing and changing. Many return intermittently in the years that follow their initial time with us to perform in special concerts and travel with us for cultural experiences abroad. A few of our returning members are: Forthcoming...





 

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PUBLICATIONS

 
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FORTHCOMING
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FORTHCOMING
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FORTHCOMING
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FORTHCOMING
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FORTHCOMING


I AM A GHANAIAN CULTURAL AMBASSADOR

A Manual for Traditional Drumming and Dance Groups of Ghana

PASCHAL YAO YOUNGE


TRADITIONAL AFRICAN MUSIC IS A TOTAL WORK OF ART

The Interdisciplinary
Musical Arts of Ghana


PASCHAL YAO YOUNGE


AFRICAN ARTS ARTICULATED THROUGH MOVEMENT



ZELMA BADU-YOUNGE


AUGUSTINE KWASIGA YOUNGE

The Pioneer in Revitalization and Africanization of the Catholic Liturgy and
Mass in Ghana


PASCHAL YAO YOUNGE


CULTURAL APPROPRIATION IN DANCE

Cultural Sharing and
Ownership Through the Eyes
of a Contemporary African Dancer‐Choreographer



ZELMA BADU-YOUNGE

"IT'S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE JUST TO SIT THERE,"...
"YOU HAVE TO GET UP AND MOVE."

ROB THOMAS, DAILY EGYPTIAN