The African Music And Dance Ensemble

CK Ladzekpo, Director

Dahomeyan Dance Suite
(Fon-Ewe people of Benin, WestAfrica)
Adzohu is a dance-drumming repertoire for various devotional activities for Adzogbo, a divinity of war among the Fon-Ewe people of Benin, West Africa.  These devotional activities include: rite of consecration or medium of centering oneself in the divine spirit, rite of invocation or yearning for spiritual communion with the divinity and rite of gratitude, reverence and respect for the divinity. 

Adzohu dance drumming repertoire is also an important element of the military culture and is replete with centuries of valued Fon-Ewe war-fighting tactics and military codes of honor.  Through the text, texture and choreography of Adzohu, the military valor and skill (prowess) of ancestral heroes are invoked in exhorting their descendants to emulate. 

(Anlo-Ewe people of  Southeastern Ghana)
Takada dance-drumming comes from the Anlo-Ewe people of Southeastern Ghana.  It symbolizes a historic struggle of Anlo-Ewe women to exercise their human right to free speech. 

To be a spokes-person, composer or choreographer used to be the reserved privilege of men.  Women were expected to take the back seat.  Even the right to play the drums, a central medium of communication among the Anlo-Ewe, was arbitrarily denied because of gender. 

About half a century ago, a group of Anlo-Ewe women challenged this notion and exercised their right to free speech by organizing Taka*a dance-drumming as a social platform for women in expressing their perspectives on virtually every aspect of the collective life.  This action ignited a bitter conflict between the men and women but these revolutionary women persisted.  They succeeded in gaining the right to play the drum for themselves and their daughters.


(Ewe people of Southern Togo)
Atsia is a popular communal dance-drumming dialogue traditionally used in disseminating the qualities of womanhood among the Ewe people who reside in the West African country of Togo. 

Amended to address contemporary issues, Atsia dance-drumming is also a thriving social platform for women in expressing their perspectives on virtually every aspect of the collective agenda. 

In Atsia dance-drumming dialogues, women are the spoke-persons or composers and choreographers.  With all their female sensibilities, they speak to the community.  They speak of the qualities of womanhood and they speak of the qualities of manhood; they speak of equity and they speak of human dignity; they speak of peace and they speak of unity.  Their communally expressed perspectives are very vital in the social, cultural and political dialogue: a real cutting edge of social change in Ewe society as a whole.


- Axatsevu
(Anlo-Ewe people of  Southeastern Ghana)

is a processional dance-drumming tradition of the Ewe people of Ghana, Togo and Benin in West Africa.  It is used by a performing community to travel from one location to the other.  Our example is drawn from Axatse*u, a popular secular dance-drumming.

(Dagarti/Lobi people of Northern Ghana)

In the African belief, the worship most acceptable to God comes from a thankful, cheerful and humble heart.  A humble and grateful mind is the soil out of which blessing naturally grow.  This is reflected in the daily lives of African people, in which humility, gratefulness and respect are the qualities of a responsible person.

In many African cultures, organized celebrations and thanks-offerings to God for a good harvest, a good fishing season, a good hunting season and many other blessings are essential dimensions of the civilization.
Our presentation, Bawa, is an essential part of celebration and thanksgiving for a good harvest among the Dagarti/Lobi  people of Northern Ghana.

Dance Lament
(Anlo-Ewe people of South-Eastern Ghana)

Dance Lament is a medley of two traditional dances of the Anlo-Ewe people of southeastern Ghana in memory of all who lost their lives in fighting for freedom. Husago, originally performed in memory of deceased priest and priestesses of Yee, a divinity of thunder is performed here lamenting the death of our freedom fighters. Atsia, a secular dance-drumming of the Anlo-Ewe is performed here celebrating the lives of these heroes and heroines in the belief that they has become another vital link between us and those gone before. Husago returns to express that we will miss their physical presence in the struggle ahead.

Ghanaian Urban Youth Dance Suite
(Ga people of Ghana, West Africa)
Kpanlogo originated in Accra, the capital city of Ghana and the traditional home of the Ga people.  It is essentially an urban youth dance-drumming and a symbol of the commitment of a rapidly growing Ghanaian urban neighborhood youth in advocating their perspective in shaping the political vision of post colonial Africa. 

Our production is a rendition of Kpanlogo dance-drumming in tribute to the youth of the world who dare advocate responsible freedom.


Photo Credit:  at Calvin Simmons Auditorium, Oakland, California

Anlo-Ewe War Dance Suite
(Ewe people of Ghana, W. Africa)

One of the most important ancestral dance-drumming repertoire of Anlo-Ewe military culture is Atamga, "The Great Oath."  Atamga derived its name from the highest oath of loyalty and patriotism among the Anlo-Ewe.  Its choreography drew directly from valued Anlo-Ewe war-fighting tactics, memorable military operations and the prowess of traditional heroes. Atamga's institutional responsibilities included, the military preparedness of warriors for battle and debriefing warriors for a smooth transition into normal life after battle. During the last three centuries, the Anlo-Ewe traditional state evolved gradually into a peaceful coexistence with their neighbors and the institutional functions of Atamga also was modified.  The name was changed to which means "lives are safe" and was dedicated to the pursuit of peace through a spirited remembrance of the horrors of warfare. 

Back to: African Drums And Dances Page

Email Inquiries:
Back To C. K. Ladzekpo Home Page
UC Berkeley African Music Ensemble (Music 148) Page
African Music And Dance Esemble Page


Richard Hodges