Environmental Dance In Ghana

By John OwooVersatile bodies take on issue of the environment with a formidable stage presence.

Dancers and students from the Noyam African Dance Institute last week took the issue of the environment on stage with spectacular movements that vividly lamented on the most dangerous threat to the planet earth.

Dancers and students from the Noyam African Dance Institute

Titled “Future of Tomorrow”, the forty-five minute issues driven piece, which was performed at the Noyam Centre in Dodowa (Dangbe West District), took on sensitive concerns relating to the environment with blunt, raw and engaging honesty.

Indeed, highly expressive movements with the aid of brooms, tree trunks, cement covers, CFC refrigerators, water sachets, oil drums and other pollutants kept the near capacity audience at the edge of their seats as storm-like sounds flowed from loud speakers and other objects “strategically” located on stage.

Supported by the Ghana Cultural Fund and the Cultural Initiatives Support Programme, “Future of Tomorrow”, which was interspersed with dialogues and monologues, is visually stimulating and compelling but probably painful to watch as it reveals day to day “attacks” on the environment by people who appear completely oblivious of the consequences of their actions.

Choreographed by Ghana’s dance sensation, Prof. F. Nii Yartey, the piece exposed the versatility of the young energetic dancers who have undeniably grown with the smart, often unpredictable works they have performed with choreographers and dancers from diverse cultures and traditions.

Using fantastically ridiculous costumes, which symbolize the bruised environment – and a set that appeared like a mountain of garbage full of pollutants that seep into the earth with amazing regularity, the group managed to send across effective messages that appealed for a dramatic shift of some behavioral patterns.

Joined by some members of communities around Dodowa such as Dorymu, Ayikuma, Kordiabe, Mokome Shitamo, Bawaleshie and Mensa Bar, the Noyam dancers raised the issue of floods, drought, hurricanes, drying rivers, depletion of the ozone layer and the issue melting ice from the North Pole, which is a frightening phenomenon.

“Future of Tomorrow’ is set to tour some regions in Ghana with a simple but complex message – calling on people to protect, preserve and conserve the environment with this intricately woven dance piece – a move that would help a safer planet for future generations.

Since its establishment over a decade ago, Noyam African Dance Institute has trained several dancers some of who are pursuing careers in dance in Europe and the United States. The Institute derives its technique and methodology from movement characteristics, aesthetic qualities and the philosophy of African dance traditions as well as the enormous movements and rhythmic resources available in diverse communities throughout the country.

Noyam is a member of the United Cultures for Development Network, which was established in 2007 under the direction and support of Mundial Productions, a cultural development organization based in the Dutch city of Tilburg. Members have over the years used aspects of the Millennium Development Goals as the center of their artistic productions.