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Monday, Sep 01, 2014

Light Rain, 73 °F

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Global Excursions Concert-1

A group of performers takes the stage during the Global Excursions Concert held Saturday evening at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium.

Photographer: Olivia Wallace

Global Excursions Concert-2

Ellie Mannette, known as “the father of the modern steel drum,” performs during the Global Excursions Concert that concluded the fourth annual World Music and Dance Festival.

Photographer: Olivia Wallace

Global Excursions Concert-3

Pei-Ching Wu, a founding member of the Ju Percussion Group, plays the marimba during the Global Excursions Concert.

Photographer: Olivia Wallace

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World cultures take center stage at Global Excursions Concert

Event featuring professional artists, OHIO students wraps up World Music and Dance Festival


Different cultures from around the world took center stage Saturday evening at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium for the culmination of Ohio University’s fourth annual World Music and Dance Festival. The Global Excursions Concert featured different styles of dance and music from countries around the globe.

During the event, performers showcased techniques from Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Finland, Ghana, Taiwan, Tobago, Trinidad and the United States.

Prominent guest artists came to Ohio University at the invitation of festival founders and directors Paschal Yao Younge, an associate professor of multicultural music education, and Zelma Badu-Younge, an associate professor in OHIO’s School of Dance. Husband and wife, Yao Younge and Badu-Younge created the World Music and Dance Festival to give students and the community an opportunity to experience a variety of cultures through lectures, workshops and the Global Excursions Concert.

Among the guest artists featured at the concert was Ellie Mannette, who Yao Younge referred to as “the father of the modern steel drum.” Other guest artists included:

  • Pei-Ching Wu, founding member of the Ju Percussion Group
  • David Hostetler, a local sculptor
  • Patrick Parson, artistic director of Ballet Creole
  • Eric Fountain, a professional steel drummer
  • Chanler Bailey and Keith Moone from Mannette Instruments
  • Rogelio Kindelan Nordet, a dancer, vocalist and percussionist from Cuba
  • Ballet Creole, a dance company dedicated to creating, preserving and presenting dance works that testify to the rich heritage of African and Caribbean cultures as they interface with European traditions
  • Azaguno, an African drumming and dance ensemble directed by Yao Younge and Badu-Younge

The event also featured several OHIO groups, including New Chords on the Block, the Ohio University Steel Band, the Ohio University African Ensemble, the Ohio University Afro-Caribbean Ensemble and the Ohio University Percussion Ensemble.

“This year’s concert was a little bit different from last year,” said Mia Dahn, a fifth-year OHIO senior who has been working with Yao Younge and Badu-Younge for five years. “We had a lot of more guest artists and things, but this year was great.”

Saturday’s concert didn’t just feature professional artists – it also included performances from Ohio University students who had attended various music and dance workshops held throughout the weeklong World Music and Dance Festival. While brutal winter weather that forced the University to close for a day shortened the week’s festivities and the time to prepare for the culminating concert, the event nonetheless came together nicely.

“This year’s World Music and Dance Festival was good, especially considering the weather was a bit of a downer,” Badu-Younge said. “There were a lot of workshops fully attended and people were excited, even with the cold, so I think it went pretty well.”

The organizers of the concert produced an authentic cultural experience for the audience with performers clad in traditional dress. Dancers moved fluidly across the stage with carefully measured movements timed to the beat of the drums. Each performance told a story.

Those on stage interacted with the audience, and Yao Younge cracked jokes throughout the evening, which got the audience laughing.

The energetic performances were full of smiles on stage and cheering from the crowd.

“It’s good to be worldly, to know everything about different cultures and accept them and appreciate what everybody does in their lives, and dancing and music is a huge celebration,” Dahn said.

Those at the concert had different reasons for attending, but many cited the cultural nature of the event as a deciding factor.

Natalia Sanchez, a sophomore studying psychology, is taking an art class this semester that requires students to attend art events and relate them to lessons learned in the classroom. She noted, however, that when she saw that the Cuban culture would be featured at the concert, her Hispanic background drew her to the event.

“We were doing local and cultural perspective on art, so I came here because I thought it would go hand in hand with what we were learning,” Sanchez said.

Juniors Lukas Chaffin and Samantha Faris who are both majoring in integrated media had friends who were participating in the performance.

“I came last year — it was fantastic and it’s something to do with your Saturday night,” Chaffin said. “It’s always impressive.”

Chaffin added that he didn’t even grab a program on his way into the concert because he knew that he would like whatever he saw. He said he was impressed by Mannette’s steel drum performance.

Faris commented that she felt very privileged to be able to see someone of such notoriety perform.

Both said they consider exposure to other cultures valuable.

“It’s an important part of culture for the whole world, really,” Faris said. “I think it’s good for everyone to be exposed to it.”

Badu-Younge also recognized the importance of understanding other cultures. She said she hoped that through the event, people would have an expanded understanding of other cultures and think of them differently.

“That’s how we learn about each other,” she said. “It’s a fun way to explore how other people think, what excites them. Every culture responds to different things. We travel a lot and so we want to also share our experiences.”