Collaborative celebration will encourage audience participation and co-creation
BOULDER, Colo. – The Zulu word “Ubuntu” means “I am, because we are,” and is often used to describe the interconnectedness of African cultures.
Directed by Nii Armah Sowah, senior instructor of dance, Ubuntu will bring together dance students and members of the community to create an atmosphere of a traditional African culture in a contemporary setting. The emphasis will be on collaboration and participation, he says.
“This is not a show,” says the native of Ghana. “We are not going to be showing a passive audience African dances. Rather this will be an experience, a process that demonstrates the importance of African hospitality. (We are displaying) the concepts of participant audience, call and response, and community circle.”
Though the vast continent of Africa is home to more than 50 countries and more than 1,000 languages, its myriad cultures share many of the same values. The Ubuntu festival is designed to present shared elements of African culture through traditional dances, songs, drumming, costumes, and storytelling.
“The event seeks to give participants an experience of what it means to be present, a guest, a participant in an African community,” and will feature numerous forms, Sowah says.
Agbekor, a dance from Ewe culture of Ghana performed during festivals to celebrate emancipation. It is a representation of the people’s long and difficult migration from Nigeria to Ghana, featuring movement that represents war, animals, tyrants, and spirituality. Kpanlogo, another Ghanaian dance, is considered a dance for the young and displays the daily life of fishing and farming of young Ghanaian people.
All aspects of the performance will take place in the round and audience members will be invited to co-create a vibrant, celebratory atmosphere.
“All are invited to enter the space just as they would if they were a guest from neighboring villages attending the festival,” Sowah says. “We want everyone to feel at home and open to the opportunity to participate physically, emotionally, and spiritually with us.”
(Photo by Daniel Beahm/For the University of Colorado Boulder)
Ubuntu African Dance Festival
Co-produced by the Department of Theatre & Dance and CU OnStage
Where: Glenn Miller Ballroom, University Memorial Center, University of Colorado Boulder
When: 2 p.m. Saturday, April 19
Tickets: $12 general admission; $10 CU students; $10 seniors; $7 18 and under
Box Office: 303-492-8181; or go to http://theatredance.colorado.edu/events/event/ubuntu-african-festival
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