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Saakumu Dance Troupe comes to Durango

Bringing music and dance from West Africa, the Saakumu Dance Troupe will open the 15th anniversary season at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College, Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 7:30 p.m.

Dedicated to introducing audiences to African music and dance, Saakumu Dance Troupe is among the leading traditional and contemporary music and dance groups of Ghana, West Africa.

The word “saakumu” means “traditions,” and, as the name implies, the company bases its aesthetic on traditional styles combined with contemporary forms. The result is a repertoire uniquely its own, including a range of spiritual, ceremonial and recreational genres.

The troupe’s presentation is said to be joyful, expressive and highly participatory. Instrumentation includes the African xylophone, drums, calabash water drums and the praise singing (talking drums) of the Akan and Dagbamba people of Ghana. 

Saakumu is led by Artistic Director Bernard Woma, who is also the founder and director of the Dagara Music and Arts Center in Accra, Ghana. He has performed for international dignitaries and presidents, including President Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth II, and was recently honored as the cultural resource representative for President Barack Obama’s family when they visited Ghana.

Saakumu’s work also involves community outreach and educational programs in schools and colleges, promoting the arts as a tool for global and cultural understanding, as well as opening an avenue for deepening the understanding of West African music and dance. The troupe is the designated official performance group at the National Festival of Art and Culture, the largest cultural festival in Ghana.

View a performance of the Saakumu Dance Troupe at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdTF82X-xp0&feature=related.

Tickets for Saakumu Dance Troupe — $15/$25 — are available at www.durangoconcerts.com or by calling 247-7657.

Showtime is 7:30 p.m., with doors to the Concert Hall and concessions, serving beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages and snacks, opening at 6:30.

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