Hayorbibimma: Dances that inspire

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Twin Cities based Hayorbibimma dance group performs dances that inspire, some say. Attending one of their live perfomance at Jawaahar dance hall in Minneapolis I had that feeling too. The group is headed by Artistic Director/Choreographer, Kofi Frances. He is a renowned drummer and dancer, descended from a long line of West African drum and dance heritage. He has performed and taught in North America, Europe, Asia and throughout Africa.

Initially trained by his grandfather, master drummer and composer of Gbenordu Habrbor Troupe, Francis began his career as a performer at the age of six. He has been touring professionally since age fifteen as a master drummer, dancer and choreographer.

“In the African community, dance is a dramatic, moving metaphor for life. From the customary to the extraordinary, dance depicts life’s rhythms and cycles, labors, values, aspirations, history, and economic conditions, religious beliefs and realities.” said Frances. “The movement reveals the internal and external conflicts endured by a community and the path of resolution. The dancer dances not alone but with his community, and for his community bringing meaning to the mundane. Dance represents our lives and our story is told as the dance unfolds.” Frances added.

Kofi Frances (Photo) says: African dance combines poetry, imagination, realism, and adornment of a culture with movements which are sometimes strong, sometimes subtle. “The flex of fingers and hands represent our prayers. The thrusting arms represent our thanksgiving. The stomp and pause reflects our indignation; the leaps and turns, our frivolity and foolishness; the tense core, our defiance; the bow, our allegiance; the halting steps, our reverence.” Dancer Kofi Frances explains.

Members of the dancers and musicians have drawn from a variety of ethnic backgrounds both from Africa and North America, to express the messages on the stage. They show talent on the stage beyond a doubt, that through sharing the dance experience, they are effectively made aware not of our differences, but of that which binds us together – an indisputable unity of people immerse in the human experience.

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Kofi is an Ewe, of the Wotsi (“Waachi”) sub-division in Togo. He has studied and performed extensively in various parts in Ghana, as well as in Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe. He is accomplished in a vast repertoire of traditional drumming pieces and accompanying dances. Kofi has taught in the United States at several universities and in 1996/97 was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship/Artist-In-Residence at the State University of New York College at Fredonia.

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