We had a wonderfully active day yesterday!
Here is our group bright eyed and excited for our first full day ahead, taken at Afia Beach Hotel.
Ella Bathory-Peeler wrote about the activities of the morning:
“Today we went to Ghana’s National Theater and had a private performance by the National Dance Ensemble. It was so incredible. My eye went to the dancers that were the most expressive. We then had a workshop with two of the dancers which was absolutely fantastic. I don’t think I’ve ever sweat so much in my life…More than anything, today inspired me. After dancing with members of the Ghana Dance Ensemble, I felt energized and alive. I can’t wait to dive deeper into the dance form.”
Our group performing Fumefume after having learned the dance during the workshop.
Julia Zhao then described our visit to acclaimed performance artist and master drum maker, David Amoo.
“In the afternoon, we visited David Amoo, who was the former artistic director of the Ghana National Dance Ensemble and who is now making drums. He has traveled to many places and his talk provoked several inspiring questions beyond just drum making (of course drum making is very cool and requires artisanship and lots of techniques). Several topics included:
· The legacy in the arts (his parents and grandparents did it, and his sons are doing performing arts as well) is in his blood and it cannot die
· Relation of the arts and religious ceremonies
· The social economic influences of being an artist (lots of young people aren’t willing to be artists because of salary and social status)
· Weaving designs from all over the world into his drums (mostly African patterns but borrow some from Japanese designs)
· How each design on the drum has their own meanings
· How drum making requires patience
· Environmental issues (they’re losing the trees to make drums because people are cutting them down but not planting back. He said this should be the shared responsibility of both the producers and consumers, and everyone needs to save the earth.)
· Using common materials
· No patent protection for original design of the drums
· The idea of home (how everyone is welcomed in Ghana and going to Ghana would be the same as going home).”
Annika Voorheis similarly enjoyed David Amoo’s presentation, writing, “The stories he told were not only personal but historical and very educational.”
Annika also wrote about the drum making process:
“I loved the process of the drum making and I can’t believe how fast they made the drums. I got to try peeling the wood of the drum with one of their tools. It was so much harder than I thought it would be, so I am very impressed at their case in making the drums.”
Today we leave for Dagbe Cultural Institute & Arts Center in Kopeyia, which will be a four hour bus ride from Accra. We will then spend the next 5 days in intensive dance, drumming and craft workshops, as practiced by the Ewe people in that area.
Our next post will feature more reflections and observations from some of our other student participants.