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Ohio University > Fine Arts > Dance > Faculty/Staff > Zelma Badu-Younge

Zelma Badu-Younge

Professor of Dance: African, Modern, Jazz Techniques, Choreography, Dance Ethnography and World Culture

Putnam 117
(740) 593-1826

Zelma Badu-Younge

Professor of Dance: African, Modern, Jazz Techniques, Choreography, Dance Ethnography and World Culture

Dr. Zelma Badu-Younge, Associate 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. Dr. 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 Ghana West 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.

Dr. Badu-Younge is Associate Director of the Annual International Summer Program in African Interdisciplinary Arts, Founder (2003) and Co-Director of the Ohio University African Ensemble, Co-Director (2010) of the Ohio University World Music and Dance Festival, the African Culture Through Music and Dance Certificate Program (2012) and the conference/symposium: 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 Mother Africa (2009) both held at Ohio University. She has 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. Zelma is a member of the Ohio Collective for Africa's Arts and OhioDance Board of Trustees, where she is chairperson for Outreach and Education.


Dr. 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 Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Helen Mensah of the Ghana Dance Ensemble, Margie Gillis, and I Ketut Rina (Indonesian dancer). She has also performed (as Azaguno performer or 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.

Badu-Younge has instructed, lectured, performed, given workshops or choreographed throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Taiwan, South Korea, Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, 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 recently 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), was a guest speaker at Princeton University's 3rd International Symposium on the Music of Africa and presenter at Orff in Africa "Music is Dance, Dance is Music" conference (Ho, Ghana.) She was also site coordinator for the OhioDance Regional Festival, Director for the Moving Bodies International Dance Film Festival (Athens, OH), guest choreographer for Ballet Creole in Toronto (2009) and was commissioned by The National Dance Company of Ghana to create two choreographic works (2010 and 2011.)Zelma was also invited to serve as North American Representative and Program Coordinator for the Institute for Music and Development (Ho and Accra, Ghana) directed by Dr. Komla Amoaku and Korkor Amarteifio (initially supported by the Dept. of State and Government of United States (2010.)

Dr. Badu-Youngeis a recent 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 three Arts for Ohio Awards. Prior to coming to Ohio University, she received several awards from the African and Caribbean Communities, the City of North York, Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, Toronto Arts Council, 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) for her work Yaa Asantewa: A hybrid of dance, music, visual art, and interactive multimedia computer technology. 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).


French Language Classes, Université du Québec à MontréalIntermediateIntermediate level completed (Montreal, QU Canada)QU Canada)

Ohio University, Department of Modern Languages, Winter Quarter 2010.

Working Knowledge of Spanish, Intermediate level completed

Ewe Language Class, Summer Courses, Ho, Ghana.

Teaching, Research and Performance Interests:


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


Selected International Awards

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 Artsannual 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

Selected National and Regional Awards

Ohio Arts Council -- Individual Excellence Award for Choreography

Arts for Ohio – Ohio University

NAACP IMAGE AWARD -- For Excellence in Faculty Academics and Research


Recent Publications

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 Storyby 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

Current and Recent Professional Affiliations:

American Dance Guild, USA

National Dance Education Organization, USA

World Indigenous Peoples' Conference on Education, International

OhioDance, USA

Arts International, USA

Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association, USA

World Dance Alliance, USA

Congress on Research in Dance, USA

International Association for Black in Dance, USA

Society of Dance History Scholars – UK

Dance UK – UK

ADAD - The Association of Dance of the African Diaspora - UK

Dance Ontario, Canada


Upcoming Activities

Paper Presentation and Dance Workshop – Re-Generations Conference, November 2012

London, England UK

Publishing: Chapter in new textbook on African Studies - Africa in the World (Fall 2012)

Editor: Dr. Steve Howard

Publisher: MTM Publishing for M.E. Sharpe Inc.

Title: Ghanaian Culture As Expressed Through Dance: From the Village to the Stage.

Research & Development: Education Abroad – CUBA January 2013

Co-Director: World Music and Dance Festival & Concert, January 28 - February 2, 2013

Co-Director: Aza Concert of African Dance & Music Concert– April 5, 2013

Co-Director: Nuit Blanche: Athens – Expected Date: April 6, 2013

For one sleepless night, experience Athens transformed by artists during the first annual sunset-to-sunrise celebration of contemporary performing and visual arts. 'One night only. All night long.'

International Dance Season: Azaguno – Winchester Street Theatre, Toronto, ON

Co-Works Performance/Production: Dance Immersion- Winter 2014






Video Clips:

Azaguno is a colorful and vibrant Multi-ethnic Ensemble, which focuses on research, preservation, education and performance of traditional African, African American, Caribbean and Latin America music and dance. The ensemble also creates contemporary intercultural works in new theatrical contexts that fuse the artistic and aesthetic cultural values and resources representative of African experiences in world history. Through the Drum, the Voice, the Dance and other visual art forms and paraphernalia, Azaguno brings to the stage a unique African theatrical experience. Azaguno, Inc operates as a 501(c)-(3) nonprofit organization. Members are recruited and trained by the directors for the activities outlined in our mission statement and programs.

Dance Drumming Ceremonies of Ghana

A 10-DVD Field Recording Set

Dance–drumming ceremonies of Ghana's four main ethnic groups are captured in this 10-DVD set. 22 musical types or dance-drumming ceremonies of the Akan, Ewe, Dagbamba and Ga ethnic groups are performed in traditional contexts. As a guide to multicultural education, performance studies and ethnographic studies, the DVD-set provides a valuable visual representation of components, form and structures of these unique traditional performances. These recordings take the viewer directly into the traditional villages, fields and festivals in Ghana.


Ohio University African Ensemble Concert Recordings


Music and Dance Traditions of Ghana

History, Performance and Teaching

By: Paschal Yao Younge

Forewords by Daniel Avorgbedor, Komla, Amoaku and Francis Nii-Yartey

Print ISBN: 978-0-7864-4992-7 Fall 2011


Current and Recent Committees


International Committees: Canada

Dance Immersion –Dance Conference in Ghana – Toronto, ON

Dance Ontario Association/Board of Directors- Toronto, ON

Canada Council for the Arts(equivalent to NEA)

Specialist for Jury – Dance Section - Ottawa, ON

Canadian Heritage Arts Policy Branch

Assessor for the National Arts Training Contribution Program for professional programs, Montreal QU/Toronto, ON

Ontario Arts Council's

"Dance Initiatives" & "Art Education" Programs. - Toronto, ON

Toronto Arts Council's

"Grants to Choreographers Program." - Toronto, ON



National and Regional

Ohio Department of Education's -

Committee for the Arts and Innovative Thinking (CAIT)

2010 Joint Conference of the American Society for Theatre

Research and the Congress on Research in Dance - National

OhioDance/Board or Directors,

Chair of Education and Outreach Committees - Columbus, OH


Ohio University Committees

Office of the Provost:

College of Fine Arts, Dean Search Committee


Librarian Committee:

College of Fine Arts:

African Art Historian Search Committee

InterArts Asian & African Arts Initiatives

International Education

School of Dance:

2010 American College Dance Festival Association (ACDFA) East-Central Conference Ohio University, Athens, OH


Scholarship Committee

Visiting Artist Committee (chair)

Search Committee

Curriculum Committee

Audition Committee (chair since 2007)



Fulbright Interview Committee



African Studies

Review Committee for Institute for the African Child (IAC)

Five-year comprehensive review of IAC for Dr. Rathindra Bose, Ohio University, Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate College, 2010.

African Studies Admissions Committee

African Studies Advisory Board

Ohio Collective for Africa's Arts



Educational Background:

McGill University - Ph.D. Degree - Education Montréal, Québec Canada Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) - Ph.D. One Semester Montréal, Québec Canada Programme d’études et pratiques des arts Cours: Séminaire de recherche et de creation Français langue seconde, niveau intermédiaire York University - M.F.A. Degree -- Dance Ethnology Toronto, Ontario Canada University of Ghana, Institute of African Studies Legon, Ghana West Africa School of Performing Arts Certificate Program: Traditional Music and Dance Concordia University - GRAD DIPL Sport Administration Montréal, Québec Canada School of Business - Courses: Organization Behaviour, Administration Concordia University - B.F.A. Dance Choreography Montréal, Québec Canada York University- B.F.A. Honours Candidate Toronto, Ontario Canada Department of Dance Course Focus: Modern Dance (Graham and Limon Techniques) Ballet (Cecchetti and Vaganova Techniques)

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