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UW-Eau Claire Artists Series
To Feature African Music and Dance Ensemble
MAILED: Jan. 28, 2002
EAU CLAIRE — Odadaa! - an ensemble that combines hot African percussion, rich vocals, high-energy dance and lush costumes - will perform on Monday, Feb. 11, as part of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Artists Series.
Led by the pioneering master-drummer, composer and choreographer Yacub Addy, the dynamic group of ten musicians and dancers from the West African Republic of Ghana will begin its show at 7:30 p.m. in Zorn Arena.
"Odadaa! doesn't put on a show," wrote Jenifer Dunning in The New York Times. "It presents its material and slowly but irretrievably draws the viewer into its intriguing world, through dance and music that is both earthly and stately. Odadaa! is a treasure."
Formed in 1982, Odadaa! grew out of a succession of groups led by Yacub Addy since 1957, first in Ghana and then in Europe and the United States. Odadaa! is named after a traditional rhythm, one played annually in Ghana's capital of Accra to officially open a harvest festival celebrated by the Ga people.
Odadaa!'s instruments are traditional and serve specific purposes. Each drum, each bell has a name, a voice, a function, a history. A variety of drums, from tall to short, cylindrical and rectangular, upright and hand-held, are played in various sets and combinations using ambidextrous hands, straight or curved sticks, or a combination of sticks, hands and feet. A bell usually provides the critical basic beat while interlocking drums, shekeres, additional bells, flutes and voices elaborate. The percussive power redoubles the visceral energy of the dance.
Ghanaian dance is directed inwardly toward the center of the body rather than outward. Movements come in great variety and complexity, expressing subtlety, fluidity and grace, sensuality, precision and comedy, as well as the bold dynamism expected of African dance. In certain pieces, movement responds to percussive command; in others, the leading drummer must stretch to immediately compose accompanying beats as fast as a dancer can create new steps. This constant dialogue in drum and dance language, in vocal call and response, with gesture, glance, wink and smile, creates a strong sense of traditional community and a truly organic African theatrical art.
Yacub Addy is senior among the renowned professional members of the Addy clan of musicians and dancers from the village of Avenor outside Accra. His formative traditional knowledge came from his father, a powerful wonche (a priest and physician who works with the supernatural), and his mother, lead singer in the music essential to his father's practice.
"My generation in Africa," Addy explains, "those of us remaining, we are the children of the ancients; we are the link to the time when our fathers and mothers were one with the natural and supernatural rhythms of life."
Determined to preserve his native art, Addy organized and led the first stage performance of traditional Ghanaian music and dance in 1957, the year of Ghana's independence. Through his more than 40-year career he has gained an international reputation for his authentic traditional presentations and his compositions.
"A concert hall may be a poor substitute for a village square in Ghana, but for most of us a performance by Odadaa! is as close to the source as we're likely to get," wrote Rhythm Magazine. "It's a glimpse into a living world in which music - drumming particularly - is the lifeblood of the community ... It's the power of the past extending itself into the present and the future. An evening spent with Odadaa! will echo within for many months after the event is past."
Admission is $15 for the public; $13 for those 62 and over and UW System or Chippewa Valley Technical College faculty/staff; or $5 for those 17 and under and UW System or CVTC students. Tickets are available at the University Service Center in Davies Center, and will be sold at the door.
Patrons may also charge tickets to MasterCard or Visa when they order by phone. Call (715) 836-3727 - or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, call toll-free (800) 949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to all telephone charge orders.
The Artists Series is made possible by student funds allocated by the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Jan. 28, 2002