By Amy Wells
The Ohio University African Ensemble, under Zelma Badu-Younge's and Paschal Yao Younge's direction, will present the dance drama "AZA! Gathering Footprints Lost in the Sands of Time: The Story of Africa" at 8 p.m. Saturday at Templeton Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium.
The production tells the true story of Africa through the performing and visual arts. Award-winning poet Padmore Agbemabiese from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, created the work specifically for this production.
The celebration includes premiere appearances by the Ohio University African Brass Band and the university African 2020 Ensemble, which includes local children ages five to 10 years old. In addition, Badu-Younge will premiere her choreography titled "Serenity...Backside."
"This is the first year (the concert) will be presented as a dance drama," said Badu-Younge, Ohio University assistant professor of dance.
Washington, D.C.-based Afro-pop band Toby Foyeh and Orchestra Africa will supply another highlight of the evening. The group which will perform its popular piece "Jalolo," is acclaimed for fusing traditional Nigerian Yoruba music with jazz, rock, pop and Latin music.
The evening combines West and South African dance with modern, Caribbean, South American, ballet and tap dance, and features Eric Fountain live on steelpan.
"(Paschal and I) believe that it is important for Ohio University students, faculty and staff, as well as the Athens community, to learn about other cultures, and what better way than through the arts," said Badu-Younge.
Inspired by the vision of Director of African Studies Steve Howard, Younge and Badu-Younge hope to show positive features and images of Africa.
"African culture is rich and diverse and an important part of American culture," Badu-Younge said. "It can be found in American popular music, jazz, dance, and so on. Could you imagine what it would be like if we removed all elements of African culture from this country?"
The production includes some 125 performers including faculty from the School of Dance and School of Music and a cross-disciplinary group of students from backgrounds including dance, music, communications, audio-production, education and physics. In addition to Badu-Younge, featured dancers include Associate Professor of Dance Travis Gatling, the university's student tap dance group Tap Cats and African dance ensemble Azaguno.
This will be the third African music and dance concert jointly presented by the School of Music and School of Dance and the fifth annual concert in collaboration with the College of Fine Arts and African Studies.
Tickets are available at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium Monday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m. and one hour prior to the show. Tickets are free for all Ohio University students thanks to Arts for Ohio, $9 for other students and $12 for the general public.
If you wish to speak with a media representative regarding this story, contact Amy Wells at 740-597-3213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.