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Zelma Badu-Younge




Zelma Badu-Younge

Professor of Dance, and Director of the School of Dance

Dr. Zelma Badu-Younge, Professor of Dance at Ohio University, one of the most charismatic cultural fusion artists, captivates her audience as she steps on stage. This mesmerizing performer is considered one of the most electrifying choreographers; with her high-energy synthesis of West African traditions combined with other world dance forms. Badu-Younge danced with The Philadelphia Dance Company -- Philadanco (Philadelphia, PA), and the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre Company (New York, NY); and has shared the stage and programs with many national and international dance artists and performance groups including: The National Dance Company of Ghana, The Ghana Symphony Orchestra, Kettering Children’s Choir singers, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Margie Gillis, and I Ketut Rina (Indonesian dancer).

She has also performed (in her group Azaguno as solo artist) with national and international performing artists and groups such as: Gibson Muriva (Zimbabwe/Canada), Rhodnie Désir (Haiti/Canada),Ghislaine Doté (Central Africa/Canada), Souleymane Badolo(Burkino Faso/USA) and Nora Chipaumire (Zimbabwe/USA) in the Ascen/danse Contemporary dance/performance festival (highlighting artists of the African diaspora); the International Association Of Blacks In Dance Conference members, including Alvin Ailey, Dallas Black Dance Company, Lula Washington Dance Theatre and the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica; The Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra (Hong Kong),Cathy Sharp Dance Ensemble (Switzerland), Riosamba (Germany), The State Dance Ensemble (Sri Lanka), Nanta – “Cookin” (South Korea), Olodum (Brazil), De Jimbe (Afro-Irish Group - Ireland) Groupe "DJEMBE RYTHM" (Senegal), PACE (Denmark), Barenaked Ladies (Canada), Halim El-dabh (composer for Martha Graham), Bob Becker of Nexus (Canada), Ju Percussion (Taiwan), Percussion Ensemble Chung Ang (South Korea), Cie Cameleon (France), Abbos Group (Uzbekistan), Satriya Budaya (Indonesia), Akin Euba (USA), Choi Jong Sil (South Korea), Thomas Lang (USA), Tomohiro Yahiro (Japan), Dudu Tucci (Germany/Brazil), Tony Royster Jr. (USA), and others from Sweden, Italy, Cuba, Costa Rica, Spain, Argentina, Portugal, South Africa, Poland, Slovenia, Uruguay, and Mainland China.

Dr. Badu-Younge is Dance Director and Choreographer for Azaguno, a multi-ethnic ensemble that focuses on research, preservation and the performance of African, African American, Caribbean and Latin American Music and Dance Styles. (Azaguno represented the United States at the Opening Ceremony of the 2002 World Soccer Cup competition in Seoul, South Korea). Professor Badu-Younge is a recipient of the Ohio Arts Council Individual Creativity Excellence Award grant for choreography (2016 and 2008), the NAACP Image Award for Excellence in Faculty Academics and Research, a three-time recipient of the Ohio University Kennedy Lecture Series Co-Sponsorship Grant and nine-time co-recipient of Ohio University’s Arts for Ohio Award. Prior to coming to Ohio University, she received several awards from the African and Caribbean Communities in Canada, the City of North York, the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Ministry of Culture. Zelma was also honored with a nomination for Outstanding Choreography by the Dora Mavor Moore Awards (equivalent to the Tony Awards) and received a Laidlaw Foundation and Canada Council Arts Grant "B” Award (equivalent to The National Endowment to the Arts), both for choreography. In addition, Zelma was awarded the prestigious Chalmers Award for choreography as well as a Canadian Year of Asia Pacific (CYAP) grant for an African Classical Indian collaborative (Odissi-Style). Badu-Younge is the Associate Director of the Annual International Summer Program in African Interdisciplinary Arts and Co-Director of the African Culture Through Music and Dance Certificate Program. She is Co-Founder/Director of Nuit Blanche Athens Nocturnal Arts Festival, the Ohio University World Music and Dance Festival and Concert and the Ohio University African Ensemble. She was co-director of the conference, Performing Africa! Visualizing Africa!! New Perspectives in African Performing and Visual Arts: The First Biannual International Conference for Performers, Visual Artists, Educators, Teachers and Scholars (2007) and the symposium, Mother Africa (2009) both held at Ohio University.

Badu-Younge served as Education Assessor for the Ohio Department of Education’s Ohio Assessments for Educators Conference (2017), Canadian Heritage’s Artistic Assessor for The National Arts Training Contribution Program, was a Specialist for Jury for the Canada Council for the Arts, and is a member of the Ohio Dance Board of Trustees, where she is chairperson for Outreach and Education. Professor Badu-Younge received some of the finest training in Canada, the United States, and Ghana: The National Ballet School of Canada, l' Academie des Grands Ballet Canadiens, Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and University of Ghana's School of Performing Arts. She holds a B.F.A. in Contemporary Dance focusing on Choreography (Concordia University), a M.F.A. in Dance Ethnology (York University), and a Ph.D. in Integrated Studies in Education focusing on Culture and Values in Education (McGill University). Both her M.F.A. “Atsiagbekor: Documentation of an Ewe Dance Form” and Ph.D. “Ewe Culture as Expressed in GhanaWest Africa Through Adzogbo Dance Ceremony: A Foundation for the Development of Interactive Multimedia Educational Material” research took her to West Africa, where she studied the Music and Dances of Ghana.

Badu-Younge has instructed, lectured, performed, given workshops or choreographed throughout the United States, Canada, and in India, Australia, Mexico, Taiwan, South Korea, Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, France, Italy, Germany, and Ghana. As a scholar, professional dance artist and teacher, she has been invited to sit on committees for The Congress on Research in Dance/The American Society for Theatre Research, and the Ohio Department of Education’s “Committee for the Arts and Innovative Thinking.” Dr. Badu-Younge produced/directed/performed in Moving Bodies: A concert of European and African Contemporary dance featuring Azaguno (Athens, OH) and the Cathy Sharp Dance Ensemble (Basel, Switzerland). Zelma was guest speaker at Princeton University’s 3rd International Symposium on the Music of Africa (Princeton, NJ), at the Society of Dance History Scholars conference on Dance Dramaturgy at York University (Toronto, Canada) a presenter at Orff in Africa “Music is Dance, Dance is Music” conference (Ho, Ghana), the World Dance Alliance -- Global Summit 2014 at Centre National de Danse Contemporaine (CNDC) in association with the University of Angers (Angers, France), and the 42nd International Council for Traditional Music, World Conference at Shanghai Conservatory of Music (Shanghai, China). Zelma Badu-Younge was also site coordinator for the OhioDance Regional Festival, Director for the Moving Bodies International Dance Film Festival (Athens, OH), guest horeographer for Ballet Creole in Toronto, was commissioned by The National Dance Company of Ghana to create choreographic works (2010, 2011) and by dance Immersion to create a major 45-minute creation, “Africa Meets Asia” performed by Azaguno. Professor Zelma Badu-Younge created new works and conducted workshops at the National Theatre of Ghana for DIEMA (2015) and AZA (2016) both contemporary Ghanaian music and dance concerts and symposia. Music for these new works were composed by Ohio University Professor, Dr. Paschal Yao Younge and performed by the National Dance Company of Ghana, NOYAM contemporary dance company of Ghana faculty from the University of Ghana’s School of Performing Arts, The National Symphony Orchestra of Ghana and Athens, Ohio’s own internationally traveling African music and dance ensemble, Azaguno.


  • African Dance & Music
  • Performance Practices of Western & Non-western Contemporary Dance Forms
  • Intercultural & Multicultural Dance Education & Curricula Development
  • Creativity, Dialogue & Interaction in World Art Cultures: sub-Saharan Africa
  • African & Non-African Visual Arts, Design & Crafts
  • Caribbean & African Canadian Gospel Singing


  • African Dance Technique – All Levels/ Majors and Non-Majors
  • Modern Dance Technique
  • Jazz Dance Technique
  • Ballet Technique
  • Dance in Non-Western Expressive Cultures
  • Dance Cultures of the World
  • The Dance Experience
  • Dance Ethnography- Intellectualizing the Body’s Motion


  • Ohio Arts Council -- Individual Excellence Award for Choreography
  • NAACP IMAGE AWARD -- For Excellence in Faculty Academics and Research
  • Ohio University Kennedy Lecture Series Co-Sponsorship Grant
  • College of Fine Arts - Arts for Ohio – Grant - Ohio University
  • UFUND Grant – Ohio University Student Activities Commission (SAC)
  • Graduate Student Senate Grant – Ohio University


  • Canada Council Arts Grant "B", Choreography – National Award, Canada
  • Chalmers Award For Training, Choreography - Toronto, ON Canada
  • Ontario Arts Council – Toronto, ON Canada
  • Laidlaw Foundation, Grant For Creation - Toronto, ON Canada
  • Canada's Year of Asia Pacific, for Creation - Toronto, ON Canada
  • Toronto Arts Council - Grant to Composer - Toronto, ON Canada
  • Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Arts Award Toronto, ON Canada
  • City of North York, Arts Award, North York, ON Canada
  • Oman Ghana Award - Outstanding Performer, Toronto, ON Canada
  • Performing Arts Awards - Outstanding Performer
  • Jamaican-Canadian Centre, Toronto, ON Canada
  • Nomination for "Outstanding Choreography" Dora Mavor Moore Awards.
  • Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards,
  • Outstanding work in theatre, dance & opera communities. Toronto, ON Canada
  • Reflections 92- Ministry of Culture and Communication
  • Jeunes volontaires (Young Volunteers) Quebec Project Grant
  • Video Documentary: Women Artist Building Bridges, Montreal, QU Canada


  • Photo Book - President Roderick J. McDavis: First Official Visit To Ghana November 8-11, 2010; Publication & Photos by Drs. Zelma Badu-Younge & Paschal Yao Younge

(June 2012)

  • South African Journal Talking Drum– editor: Betsy Oehrle
  • Orff in Africa: Through the Eyes of an African Dancer: Intellectualizing the Body's Movement to Music.

(December 2011)

  • Paper originally requested and written for Princeton University's Third International Symposium on the Music of Africa" invited -- April 2009.
  • Assistant Producer & Videographer: Dance Drumming Ceremonies of Ghana: A 10-DVD Field Recording Set

(Fall 2011)


"Musical Traditions of Ghana: A Guide to Multicultural Music Education"; Author: Dr. Paschal Yao Younge,

Publisher: McFarland -- publisher of reference, scholarly books for library,academic markets.

Article/Television/on-line Interviews/Highlight:

Perspectives Magazine article [Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity]

Autumn/Winter 2009 Muses of Movement: Paschal Younge and Zelma Badu-Younge use African music and dance to foster cultural awareness -- Cover Story by Samantha Kinhan

The dance current, March 2010, "Dancing the African Diaspora in Canada", Cover Story by Naomi Brand

The dance current, November 2009 "Acts of Dance: Dance as Activism. Cover Story by Kathleen M. Smith



  • American Dance Guild
  • National Dance Education Organization
  • OhioDance
  • Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association
  • Congress on Research in Dance
  • International Association of Blacks in Dance


  • The International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) UNESCO-recognized NGO.
  • An academic organization focused on musicology and dance research.
  • Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists
  • World Indigenous Peoples' Conference on Education, International (WIPCE)
  • Arts International
  • World Dance Alliance
  • Society of Dance History Scholars
  • Dance UK
  • ADAD - The Association of Dance of the African Diaspora
  • Dance Ontario


Azaguno: www.azaguno.com

Music and Dance Traditions of Ghana: History, Performance and Teaching By: Paschal Yao Younge;
Print ISBN: 978-0-7864-4992-7 Fall 2011 http://www.mcfarlandpub.com/book-2.php?id=978-0-7864-4992-7


Azaguno: on Youtube

Ohio University African Ensemble Concert Recordings: OUAfricanEnsemble Youtube Channel


  • McGill University - Ph.D. Degree - Montréal, Québec Canada
    • Focus: Culture and Values in Education
  • York University - M.F.A. Degree - Toronto, Ontario Canada
    • Focus: Dance Ethnology
  • Concordia University - B.F.A. Degree - Montréal, Québec Canada
    • Focus: Contemporary Dance & Choreography
  • Training: Dance forms from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America Ballet, Modern, and Jazz dance forms

Classes Being Taught:

  • DANC 1700 The Dance Experience
  • DANC 1050 Intro to African Dance
  • DANC 1250 African Dance Technique
  • DANC 3550 Dance Cultures of the World