Ghanaian dance troupe pays a visit to their Minnesotan ‘family’

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This weekend, the Twin Cities will welcome Saakumu Dance Troupe of Ghana, West Africa on their first United States tour. Made up of 11 dancers and four musicians, Saakumu Dance Troupe is among Ghana’s leading traditional/contemporary dance and music groups. The Troupe is from the Bagara region in northwest Africa and their performance represents that region’s culture as well as that of other regions of Africa.

“This is an opportunity to celebrate Black History Month and to bring together people from different communities,” says Amy Miller. Miller is the Troupe’s tour coordinator. As a Hamline University student in 2005, she visited Ghana for two months and studied music and dance at Dagara Music Center in Accra, where the Saakumu Dance Troupe is based.

Saakumu Dance Troupe of Ghana is presenting four performances in Minnesota: Suburban World Theatre in Minneapolis, Friday, February 15, 8 p.m.; Sabathani Community Center, Minneapolis, February 16, 10:15 am; Macalester College, St. Paul, February 16, 8 p.m.; Concordia College, Moorhead, February 17, 4 p.m. Tickets are $12 at the door.


Miller wants audiences to see the beauty of West Africa’s people and culture. The troupe’s visit will educate those who don’t know much about West Africa and will help to diminish stereotypes, Miller hopes.

Also in the Daily Planet, read Dwight Hobbes’s interview with New Primitives founder Stanley Kipper and Helen Kinuthia’s profile of IBé.

The musicians will play traditional Ghanaian instruments: the gyil (African xylophone), drums, and the calabash water drums. One of the dances that will be performed is the peace dance—bamaya—from the northern part of Ghana. Miller, who plays the gyil, describes the music and dance as joyful and entrancing.

In Ghana, the Saakumu Dance Troupe teaches dance and music in the communities—thus ensuring that the culture and traditions are kept alive and passed on. They celebrate their beauty in dance, costumes and music.

Also appearing on the program will be the local reggae/worldbeat band New Primitives, as well as spoken word artist IBé. IBé, a refugee from Sierra Leone, West Africa, spreads his message of social justice through poetry.

The dance troupe will perform at various venues in the Twin Cities where they have a connection, including at universities from which students have traveled to Ghana to study with them. Miller describes herself as “very close” to these Minnesotans. “They are like my Ghanaian family—they are such warm, welcoming people. They welcomed us in their home and we want to make this a successful trip for them while they are here.”

Jennifer Holder (jyholder@msn.com) contributes regularly to the TC Daily Planet and the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.

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