RESIDENCY PROGRAMS & WORKSHOPS HIGHLIGHTS

Intro

The history of African dance, singing, drumming, proverbs, sculptures, folklore and inspirational music integrates into the lives of the people it represents. For centuries, Africans have used entertainment as a means to express their feelings. Drumming for example helps to connect oneself back to life and seems to forget about the past. Sometimes it brings memories of traditional values, customs, celebrations and norms of an African society. Drumming, dancing and singing relieve stress and is a good form of exercise. One of our major goals in this program is to foster an awareness of the cultural heritage of Africa descendants and to promote, encourage cultural diversity in our schools and community.

These programs and workshops will provide essential cultural information in our community, thus, greatly expanding the awareness of students, adults, seniors and above all the community horizons about African cultures, values and traditions. Ethics and moral values play a vital role in our teaching and demonstration process. These approaches will introduce students to the artistic evidence of cultural diversity about Africa and will enable students to understand the evolution, cultures, traditions, customs, food, attires, ideology and life-style of West and Central Africans. AFRICATAMTAM's methods of dancing, singing, and drumming are appropriate for all ages. The various workshops we offer will elaborate on African philosophy and ideology of a traditional society as well as community life in villages, towns, kingdoms.

With the experience of being a sculptor, singer, dancer and drummer who has lived and traveled throughout Africa , I believe AFRICATAMTAM can offer a unique source of traditional African Arts (Verbal, Visual, and Performance) to schools, family events, organizations and public/community events. This will show that in order to obtain a balanced view of Africa's history and developmental process, there is need to view the continent not only through the eyes of some foreign literati (as has been the case so far on TV), but more so from the African standpoint. There is more in Africa than the picture we all see on TV. Some of the diversity programs and workshops will include traditional African dance {dance circles and mask dancing}.drumming {drum circle, introduction to African musical instruments}, singing, African dishes, African sculptures and interpretation, poems, proverbs, folklore and drama. These didactic programs and traditional workshops /entertainments brings and give a new face and meaning to every community. Cultural diversity is one of the keys to every community integration programs.

The following enrichment programs are suitable for before and after school programs as well as the entire community:

 

DANCE WORKSHOP

 

AFRICAN DANCE is the movement of the body in a traditional rhythmic way and within a given traditional event/ceremony for the purpose of expressing an idea or emotion, releasing energy and creative movement that matches the rhythm. Dance expresses the cultures and values of the African people. Throughout Africa a dance can be used to identify one tribe from the other. The dance workshop is intended to introduce students/participants to African sounds/rhythms as an important component in the development of movement and dance forms . Africa dance comes in so many forms. Africans are known to use dancing as a means of communication. The rhythm of the traditional percussions marches the movement of the body. Gestures on the other hand and other body movements demonstrate and express the condition and the mood of the soul. All or most African dancers, as well as their spectators, know their meanings. There are many other dance movements which one uses when dancing to connect with the environment and rhythm. An Africans dancer at times imitates animal movements and thus applies them in a dance form. Attention is placed on rhythm to match the pattern. This is common in central and West African. The head, the waist, legs, hands, neck and hips are essential in African dance. Foot steps are the foundation of African dance. The steps usually marches the drumming and other body parts follow depending on the dancer and the type of music. Volunteers/participants will learn dancing steps before dance circles begins. Dance circle brings unity and similarities, thus creating a common ground for peers/people regardless of origin.

 

MASK DANCING POPULARLY KNOWN AS JUJU IN WEST AND CENTRAL AFRICA

Traditional African mask dancers not only represent a spirit but also an embodiment of the traditional spirit during the dance . This is particularly true of the sacred dances involving masquerade. Dancers use a range of masks and costumes to represent spirits, gods, and sacred animals . These masks vary in sizes and shapes. At an annual festival or special events, members of the sacred ancestral society or dance group perform in elaborate costumes representing anything from village chiefs to animals and spirits as they mediate between the ancestors and the living. Mask dancing is full of energy and gives a different taste to the public about the rich culture and tradition of West and Central Africa .

West African body movement when dancing. African dance involves the movement of all-or sometimes only a few parts-of the body, in contrast to many western forms that rely mostly on arm and leg movement. Dancing in Africa is a process whereby the body connects with the soul and kick stress out through spectacular body movements. This will depend on the type of occasion and symbol of the dance. It can be a healing process, joy or sorrow. Angular bending of arms, legs and torso; shoulder and hip movement; scuffing, stamping, and hopping steps; asymmetrical use of the body; and fluid movement are all part of African dance. This movement serves as a vital form of exercise.

 

Costumes and dance appearance. African ritual dance makes use of special objects. Masks and colorful costumes are unique. West and Central Africans continue to use masks, animal skin and horns, cowries, feathers, sticks or staffs, special cloth, and other ancestral objects in dancing. White, black or red handkerchiefs, canes, and animal skin cloth or weaved hats are other objects used, mostly by men, during a special dance. Women commonly use cam wood, fibers, beads and necklace, palm fronds or special grass during performance. Africatamtam will provide some of these costumes during workshops and events.

Dance competition. This is a widespread custom in West and Central Africa . Challenges in dance competition are very interesting. Some example competitions are: dancer vs. dancer {each dancer takes a turn while the master drummer plays}, villages dance rivalries {each village brings the best dance group to compete}, clan competitions, traditional acrobatic rivalry and musical expert contests. Africatamtam will support dance competitions among volunteers.

Pantomime. Many African dances reflect the motions of life. Dance movement may imitate animal behavior like the flight of the egret, enact human tasks like pounding rice, or express the power of spirits in whirling and strong forward steps. Lion, Elephant, Lizard and Monkey Dance are common among African tribes. Most village practice imitates something similar with their environment or the animals they see in their daily lives.

Polyrhythm. African music included several rhythms at the same time, and Africans often danced to more than one beat at once. Dancers could move their shoulders to one beat, hips to another, and knees to another. This rhythmic complexity, with basic ground beat and counter beats played against it, formed the basis for later music such as ragtime, jazz, and rock n' roll.

African dance Circle and Line Formations. Many African dances are performed by lines or circles of dancers. Traditional European dance also incorporated lines and circles, and this commonality may have been important in dance exchange. Most often the men pick the women for a dance. In some regions women do pick men for a dance.

Creativity and Improvisation. Within the patterns and traditions of age-old dance forms, an African felt free to be creative. A dancer could make an individual statement or give a new interpretation to a familiar gesture.

ARTS, CRAFTS AND ARTIFACTS WORKSHOPS

African arts and artifacts bring and give visual information about African heritage, traditions, cultures and the values of African countries. It is a great educational experience for students and the community. Visual information gives students and participants the opportunity to understand different countries, heritage and their culture. Africatamtam will present sculptures with information displaying crafts and artifacts from African countries and cultures. Most sculptures have meaning and reflect the daily life of a traditional African society. Frequent gestures and themes in African wooden carvings include hands, arms, woman with a baby, a hunter with bow and arrow[sometimes on horseback] face mask[male and female], a family, traditional gods, pots, plates, musical instruments, sleeping mat, etc. It should also be noted here that beads and cowries play a vital role in Africa and would also be on display.

DRUMMING AND AFRICAN PERCUSSIONS

Drumming is the heart and soul of Africa and plays a huge role in the African community. Africa is often known as a festival continent Drumming is used as a means of communication. Drums and other African percussions have been used for centuries to express feelings, stories, events, wedding, child birth, death ceremony, rituals and links to ancestral roots. Africans use drums and other musical instruments to communicate in their daily lives. Instruments used include wooden flute, Balophone, "kora" and Iron Gong {popularly known as the "ogene" in Eastern Nigerian}. Africatamtam will provide drums and teach drumming through drum circles. The master drummer will teach and create drum sounds into groups that when merged gives an African rhythm. Each group will play a particular tone. These tones will be following by stages of tones from other groups.

Percussion. In much of Africa , percussion often dominates music and in many cases the drum is the leading instrument. Hand clapping, foot tapping, and body patting were also important percussive sounds. The village crowd claps at times to the rhythms of the dancer or the songs. Sometimes the audience sings together with dancers and drummers. This brings harmony and relates to ones' love of culture and tradition.

SONGS, PROVERBS, FOLKLORE, AND POEMS FROM AFRICA

Classroom and landscape setting works well with this program. Outdoor setting is equally perfect for this type of program. Under a big tree or a neat forest park will be a great location. Africatamtam will provide traditional sitting mate. Peers will ask questions about Africa and learn more about Africa in a natural environment similar to Africa . African dishes are optional in this program. Folklore, proverbs and songs of Africa are so cool for students. Sometimes they communicate a story and the history of their ancestors. This open environmental setting gives a more unique test of an Africa setting. Proverbs about the forest, animals and vegetation can easily be explained in this kind of environment. African costumes {male and female} will be provided by Africatamtam to volunteers/ participants during the workshop. Participants are also encouraged to bring African wears.

 

 

programs
 

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