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Drumming and Dance

Sarah Manion, senior
African studies and environmental science
Brewster, Mass

"With the support of a grant from the humanities division, I undertook a summer research project in Accra, Ghana. My goal was to develop a deeper understanding of the links between artistic traditions like drumming and dance and West African culture.

"My home-stay experience immersed me in the culture, and I benefited from my personal relationship with the family that hosted me. They were thrilled to teach me Twi (the local Akan dialect) and answer my questions about Ghana.

"Professor Nii Yartey, director of the Noyam African Dance Institute, allowed me to observe traditional art forms being reinvented in a modern context, as dancers incorporate ancient dance movements into modern routines. I also met with a senior dancer who taught me basic bell patterns, drum accompaniments, and dance theory; gained experience with West African rhythms, exploring the symbiosis of African drumming and dance; and developed a method for recording traditional drum patterns."