AZA! engages and informs through song and dance
Published: Sunday, October 20, 2013
Updated: Sunday, October 20, 2013 22:10
AZA! used a mixture of drums, dancing, comedy and music to teach about African Cultural Arts hilarious and electrifying experience recommendable for everyone. Everyone who participated in the event was smiling and the show engaged spectators.
The show included people from many departments at UConn. There were dance and music majors from the School of Fine Arts, UConn’s Women’s Choir and even members of the audience got involved. The directors of the show were Ohio State University professors Paschal Yao Younge and Zemlma Badu-Younge.
Younge directed the music aspect of the show, teaching his students about the powerful African beats, while Badu-Younge directed the choreography. Surprisingly, the two directors did not only instruct and direct the show, they also took an active part in it. They played the drums and literally danced their hats off as Badu-Younge danced with such intensity; her hat flew out of her hair.
Each dance and song was completely different and the performers kept a smile on throughout the show. One of the more amazing dances, “Sanga,” comes from Northern Ghana and represents the struggles of men trying to chase women. This dance showed the male dancers following the female dancers like hunters. However, the males ended up only being teased, leaving them distressed and crying on the floor. The typical African dancing was mixed with a lot of jumping and shaking and a more modern style with was similar to krumping. After such intense drumming from the Earthtones Vocal Ensemble, the UConn Women’s Choir gave the audience time to relax with a mellow lullaby called Tutu Gbovi (“Baby Don’t Cry”).
Probably the most surprising aspect of the whole spectacle was the small time lapse in which the students had to learn and practice all the dances. CC Ciaudelli, a 3rd-semester accounting major, explained to me that they learned the whole thing in six weeks. The first five weeks they only practiced once a week for three hours, and then they practiced every day during the last week of rehearsals.
Brid Grant, the dean of the School of Fine Arts was pleasantly surprised with the outcome of the whole show and was proud that the students were able to get everything together in such a small window of time, and noticed how every single member of the show enjoyed themselves while doing it.
The show AZA! was a culturally fulfilling spectacle, which taught audience members about Africa in an unconventional sense.
“We teach about Africa through the Arts, that is all we want,” Badu-Younge said.