By John Owoo
(In Accra – Ghana)
A cool breeze loosely shifted leaves of trees at the Alliance Française last Saturday – as an artiste taking on the role of a “griot” – begins the narration of life’s journey, which comprised acts that are traceable to our varied art forms.
Titled “Ajenuloo”, the colourful performance showcased assorted aspects of Ghanaian culture and traditions by members of the Ghana Dance Ensemble – who kept the audience at the edge of their seats with fast moving scenes – that flowed into each other with relative ease.
Indeed, the musical pulse of beat making created an atmosphere of calmness that conformed to ritualism and ceremonialism as the dancers enacted a near forgotten journey that unfolded the story of a country – indeed its people, its culture and its norms.
Choreographed by Nene Narh Hagoe, acting artistic director of the ensemble, the piece is undeniably a groundbreaking performance that speaks across ethnic, cultural, linguistic and geographical divides while telling a compelling story through riddles.
Accompanied by traditional drummers, flutists, seperewa players and recorded music, the choreographer managed to streamline Ghanaian traditions and culture, which was presented on stage by skillful dancers and musicians.
Along with the music was a tender quality of movement that conveyed a secret language of gesture where trained bodies offered varied constructions of femininity, masculinity and neutrality thereby revealing the complexity and diversity of our lives as Ghanaians.
With a creative set design that comprised stylized trees and huts by David Amoo, the group created miniature narratives of our life’s story including scenes from formalized practices from Ghanaian traditional religions and social ceremonies.
Currently based at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana (Legon), Ghana Dance Ensemble was formed in 1962 by the first Ghanaian president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah as a research institute and performing entity with a mandate to preserve Ghanaian culture.