Eight dancers from the Noyam African Dance Institute in Accra last week received a standing ovation in the Burkinabe town of Koudougou after an impressive performance that left a multi-racial audience cheering and applauding.
Performing at the 12th edition of “Nuit Atypiques de Koudougou”, one of Burkina Faso's several multi-cultural festivals, the group kept the near capacity crowd constantly at the edge of their seats with “Spirit of Koom”, a forty- minute piece choreographed by the Ghanaian dance guru F. Nii Yartey.
Clad in costumes that recall the skills of antique African designers, the young dancers exhibited raw energy, dexterity and talent as they moved in unison with bodies that have been well crafted by an act they have so gracefully mastered over the years.
Fuelled by a desire to promote the rich Ghanaian cultural heritage through highly imaginative dance pieces, the group drew loud applause as they shifted gears from traditional to contemporary dances and from recorded music to refreshing rhythms from an array of African drums.
A dramatic fusion of traditional and contemporary, ancient and modern, religion and secularism, “Spirit of Koom” is visually stimulating and intellectually satisfying.
It raises issues relating to drought, famine and other natural disasters while crying for a need for purification –which the dancers signify through pouring of water on their agile bodies.
The three-day festival also witnessed spectacular shows by the Senegalese superstar Baba Maal, Beninois diva Zeynab, Malian griot Abdoulaye Diabate and the Burkinabe crowd-puller Dicko Fils.
There were also performances by groups from countries such as Benin, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, France and The Netherlands.
Dubbed Culture, Water and Decentralised Cooperation, the festival was characterised by a series of roundtable discussions by arts professionals and representatives of donor organisations from Europe and Africa.
Established in Burkina Faso in 1996 by the Benebnooma Association in Koudougou, “Les Nuits Atypiques” saeeks to create a dialogue between artistes from North and South who share ideas and experiences in a cordial and peaceful atmosphere.
The Noyam African Dance Institute was established in 1998 as the first private dance training institution approved by the Ghana Education Service. It is an initiative for the training of young people and the development of traditional and contemporary African dances in Ghana.
The festival was sponsored by Cooperation Francaise, Taiwanese Cooperation, Burkinabe Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Communication, Prince Claus Foundation, La Francophonie, Festival Mundial, Africalia, University of Koudougou, Embassy of China, Embassy of The Netherlands, Doen Foundation and others.
From John Owoo Koudougou,