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Zelma Badu-Younge

Zelma Badu-Younge, photographer: Nii-Tete Yartey



Zelma Badu-Younge

Professor of Dance, and Director of the School of Dance

Photo Credit: Nii-Tete Yartey


Zelma Badu-Younge, 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.

Zelma Badu-Younge, Professor of Dance and Director of the School of Dance at Ohio University, trained 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), an M.F.A. in Dance Ethnology (York University), and a Ph.D. in Culture and Values in Education (McGill University).

Professor Badu-Younge danced with The Philadelphia Dance Company -- Philadanco (Philadelphia, PA), the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre (New York, NY); and is Dance Director, Choreographer, and dancer 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.

Professor Badu-Younge is a two-time recipient of the Ohio Arts Council Individual Creativity Excellence Award grant for choreography, the NAACP Image Award for Excellence in Faculty Academics and Research, and a repeated recipient of multiple awards and grants from Ohio University and in Canada from both government and artistic organizations including, the prestigious Chalmers, Laidlaw Foundation and the Canada Council for the Arts Awards. She was also nominated for Outstanding Choreography by the Dora Mavor Moore Awards in Canada and highlighted in a cover story as a Cultural Ambassador in Dance Teacher Magazine.

Professor Badu-Younge currently serves as Education Assessor for the Ohio Department of Education’s Ohio Assessments for Educators Conference and is a former member of the Ohio Dance Board of Trustees, where she was Outreach and Education chairperson. In addition, she served as Canadian Heritage’s Artistic Assessor for The National Arts Training Contribution Program and was a Specialist for Jury for the Canada Council for the Arts.

Professor Badu-Younge has instructed, lectured, performed, given workshops, or choreographed widely in four continents. As a scholar, professional dance artist, and teacher, she was selected as a Fulbright Alternate - Ghana (2021-2022), 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." She was a 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), and a Juror for Animaze: LE MIAFF Montreal Animation Film Festival ONLINE 2020 EDITION (Montreal, Canada) and a presenter at Orff in Africa “Music is Dance, Dance is Music" conference (Ho, Ghana). In addition, she presented papers at:  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 International Council for Traditional Music, World Conference  (ICTM) at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music 2013 (Shanghai, China), the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick 2017 (Limerick, Ireland) and will present this summer at ICTM’s 45th  World Conference at Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok, Thailand.

Professor Badu-Younge co-collaborated and created new works and conducted workshops at the National Theatre of Ghana with The National Dance Company, National Drama Company, and National Symphony Orchestra of Ghana in the production of DIEMA (2015), AZA (2016), and a third production titled AGRO (2018) in celebration of the theatre's 25th Anniversary. She and Professor Paschal Yao Younge (School of Music) presented excerpts of the works mentioned above during the co-produced 2nd Global Arts Festival 10th World Music and Dance Concert at Ohio University and Messiah University's Nukpokpo Concert, Spring 2022. This international production included the National Dance Company of Ghana (Accra, Ghana), Messiah University's Symphony Orchestra and Percussion Ensemble (P.A.), and Azaguno. In addition, for the second time, Professor Badu-Younge was invited to teach and perform in Chennai, India, for Leadership Engagement in Artistic Performances – Leap in India.


  • 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 (S.A.C.)
  • 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
  • Performing Arts Awards - Outstanding Performer, Jamaican-Canadian Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Nomination for "Outstanding Choreography" 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, Canada


  • Cultural Appropriation in Dance: Cultural Sharing and Ownership Through the Eyes of a African Dancer-Choreographer. Jenny Stanford Publishing, Pte., Limited, Singapore



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


  • The International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) UNESCO-recognized N.G.O.
    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
  • Dance UK
  • ADAD - The Association of Dance of the African Diaspora
  • Dance Ontario


  • 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 Techniques from Western and Non-Western Forms