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ISSUE 121 VOL 4 PUBLISHED 10/12/2007

Adeti shares African Dance

By Tim Rehborg
Opinion Editor

Friday, October 12, 2007

Christian Adeti, African drummer and dancer, completed a one-day residency this past Friday with the St. Olaf dance department. A performer originally from Ghana, he teaches at various schools in the cities, as well as at Carleton College.

Adeti's residency began with an energetic dance class in Dittman Center's Studio 1, with an array of drummers at the front. About 40 students attended, spread throughout the room wearing various types of dance clothes, sweats and street wear.

Wearing a red, green and yellow striped mesh shirt, Adeti warmed the students up with the beginnings of an African dance. "I am so very glad to be here with you again," he began, recounting his previous visits to campus.

The first dance Adeti taught was an old circumcision dance from the country of Guinea. He emphasized the cultural importance of this dance, specifying that it comes from the Sinte people of Guinea and that it is rooted in their traditions. Energetic and rhythmically complex, he taught the students how to listen for the drum rhythms and react when the music signaled a change in the movement.

Adeti also taught a song at the end of the class, a simple song about a parent telling a child not to stay out too late. The students then paired it with the dance, integrating the important African traditions of singing, drumming and dancing.

Later that evening, Adeti continued his residency with a performance of African drumming and dancing, joined by four drummers and two dancers. The performance seemed largely spontaneous; camaraderie and joy was apparent in the interactions between the performers.

The drummers improvised rhythms off one another, while the dancers waited for the beat they wanted before dancing down the stage, improvising different African movements. Swinging the torso, bending it low to the earth and extended arms were all hallmarked as part of the African tradition.

Held in Studio 1 as a performance, the event would have been more satisfactory in a different setting. In the absence of planned choreography, the dancers were often chatting, laughing and enjoying themselves; however, this meant that the audience was often left just sitting and watching the two dancers try to decide what to do next. If the event had been held in a more festive, party-like atmosphere, the audience wouldn't have felt quite so distanced.

Actually, this speaks to the nature of an event like this one. This social dance form is one that invites audience participation. Thankfully, at one point during the show, Adeti and his dancers invited several students on stage to dance. A line of volunteers entered the picture, learning movements from these dancers. This education and sharing of dance seems to be Adeti's primary strength.

While successfully vibrant and rhythmic, the confines of the audience-performer relationship ultimately limited Adeti's performance. It was already low-key, absent of introductions, program notes and the other features of performance venues. The passion and exuberance we saw in the dancers and musician's faces was a beckoning to go and join them, an action I hope is possible the next time Adeti visits campus.

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