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Sunday, May 27, 2018

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Ohio University will join Agoro, the National Theatre of Ghana's 25th anniversary symposium and concert, June 25-30, 2018.

Ohio University will join Agoro, the National Theatre of Ghana's 25th anniversary symposium and concert, June 25-30, 2018.

Graphic courtesy of: College of Fine Arts

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OHIO to join ‘Ghana Meets the World’

Fine Arts, Health Sciences and Professions faculty, students helping with symposium and concerts to celebrate the National Theatre of Ghana’s 25th anniversary


Ohio University will join several partners to honor the 25th anniversary of the National Theatre of Ghana with a six-day celebration featuring an international symposium and concerts.

The events at the theatre in Accra, Ghana, include a three-day symposium held June 25-27 focused on “Arts, Health and Wellness, followed by three days of performances.” Many of the OHIO faculty and students will travel Ghana between May 1 and June 23 to prepare, however. The symposium and performances will be organized in collaboration with Ghana’s ministries of health, education, youth and sports, tourism, arts and culture, and gender, children and social protection. Dr. Jeff Russell, director of OHIO’s Science and Health in Artistic Performance (SHAPe) Clinic at Ohio University and a faculty member in the College of Health Sciences and Professions, will serve as keynote speaker for all three days.

From June 28-30, AGORO, a concert of new African music, dance and drama, will feature several new African orchestral music, dance and theatrical works composed by OHIO professors Dr. Paschal Yao Younge, composer, and Dr. Zelma Badu Younge, choreographer. The celebration will include performances from Ghana’s National Dance Company, National Symphony Orchestra, National Drama Company, and international artists from the United States and Canada, including several OHIO students and alumni.

“This is a unique opportunity for us to visit Ghana during this high profile interdisciplinary series of workshops culminating with a celebration of 25 years of the National Theatre of Ghana on the Saturday evening,” said Dr. Lorna Jean Edmonds, vice provost for global affairs and international studies and director of the Center for International Studies at OHIO. “I am looking forward to meeting OHIO faculty and students in Ghana along with their community and university partners who are working together to spearhead this major international initiative.”

Edmonds, who will also be in Ghana to attend the 2018 African Educational Research Network (AERN) Summit, will be joined by Dr. Matthew Shaftel, Dean of the College of Fine Arts, and Bose Maposa, assistant director, graduate studies, Center for International Studies.

The husband-and-wife team of Younge, a professor of music education, and Badu-Younge, a professor of dance, both in the College of Fine Arts, has organized previous concerts in Ghana, bringing together the orchestral and dance groups. This year’s event is larger than anything they’ve done previously, however.

“We want Ohio University to be there in Ghana. Other universities, they bring their groups, but nobody is doing this kind of collaboration,” said Younge, a native of Ghana. “Part of our global engagement from the University in Ghana will be through the arts.”

Russell said he was attracted to the symposium because each day focuses on one of his specialties. He will deliver keynote addresses on arts and wellness, sports and wellness, and health policy and health care.

“It’s been so interesting just to think about the opportunity because there’s really a big segment of that country that can be involved in this and we’re hoping rallies around this and participates,” Russell said. He has worked in athletic training, sports medicine and orthopaedics prior to focusing on his current specialty of performing arts medicine. “The general thread through all the days is really a whole-person understanding of health and wellness. What I’m planning to do is unfold a whole-person concept of health and wellness, and also health care.”

Younge said about a dozen people representing Ohio University will make the trip, including students, faculty and alumni. Another seven artists from the U.S. and Canada are also making the trip to perform. Badu-Younge has been working to choreograph and teach dance routines, in some cases over many miles.

“This is the way for them to learn what it’s like to be a professional, getting confidence to present their own personal work,” she said.

The performances will last two hours each with the theme “Ghana Meets the World.” It will include New Orleans Jazz.

“It’ll be juxtaposed or combined with something very similar that they do in Ghana, so they can make a connection. We also have the audience get involved, so we give them shakers,” Badu-Younge said. Younge said there will also be a youth choir singing spirituals, with a liturgical dance routine included. Musicians including a vibraphone soloist and steel drummers will perform jazz songs, he said.

“The Ohio University College of Fine Arts is so enthusiastic to be involved in this incredible celebration of our impact on the arts and communities around the world,” Shaftel said. “We are committed to the education of all OHIO students through a global perspective on the arts. This incredible partnership that Paschal Younge and Zelma Badu-Younge have created with the National Theatre of Ghana lays the groundwork for many transformational experiences to come.”

Besides introducing Ghana to performances from around the world, Younge said it’s a great opportunity for students, as well.

“Our students can actually play in an international orchestra before they graduate. They can actually dance with the international dance company of Ghana,” he said.

Edmonds noted that there is an OHIO alumni community of more than 300 and growing in Ghana. She and Younge said they plan to have a reception for alumni during the weeklong session.