Master Ghanaian drum and dance instructor Sulley Imoro is visiting eight schools in ICSD this month - bringing with him An Introduction to West African Drum & Dance.
Imoro is here as a cultural liaison to interact with over 500 students. Imoro brings extensive knowledge of dance, song, and drum traditions from countries across West Africa. Students will experience West African drum and dance while expanding their knowledge of this place in our world. The ability to understand and accept peoples’ differences is a key life skill to learn, and this project gives students an engaging way to explore this. Learning how to communicate effectively without words - as drummers and dancers do - shows students the importance of trust and teamwork within a small-group working environment. Given Imoro's extensive experience and knowledge, it is our pleasure to welcome him to the ICSD community. Imoro's visit culminates with an African Drum & Dance Celebration Concert- learn more below. Click here to watch Sulley Imoro
At the celebration concert, students will have the opportunity to join Imoro on stage and present what they learned. Additional music from Ghana and other West African countries will be shared. While students are not required to attend the event, they are encouraged to attend and perform. The event will be free and open to the public. Donations support Imoro’s nonprofit school for children who live in poverty in Accra, Ghana.
"AN INTRODUCTION TO WEST AFRICAN DRUM & DANCE"
Imoro is visiting Belle Sherman, Beverly J. Martin, Caroline, DeWitt, Enfield, Fall Creek, Northeast, and South Hill schools as a first-person resource to teach a wide range of students about West African life, history, and culture through music, dance - focusing on traditional Ghanaian drum and dance practices. Imoro will highlight the cultural context of the material, rich historical information on each dance, and how the music plays a part in daily life in Ghana.
Recognizing that each school in the Ithaca City School District has its own unique culture and student community, this program will allow collaborating teachers to tailor their experience to individual schools.
“The West African drum and dance community across the world roots its foundations in building community and celebration,” said Jonathan Keefner, a collaborating teacher in the project. “Regardless of the culture you are from or how you associate yourself with the world, community building and celebration are integral parts of life. Sulley Imoro has the ability to take an art form that is often very foreign to American audiences and create connections through love and community to which everyone can relate. This concept of love and community permeates every workshop and performance through interactive drumming, dancing, and singing."
An Introduction to West African Drum & Dance is designed to equip teachers to include this work in their existing curriculum and progressively build student knowledge each subsequent year.
In workshops, students will gain an understanding of a specific rhythm: this includes the movements, the accompanying songs, and the historical information about that rhythm. Students will also gain understanding of the cultural information associated with the rhythm so they can use what they learn in an appropriate way.
“This experience heightens students’ capacity with instruments - such as hand drums - while empowering them to move comfortably with their bodies,” Keefner said. “American culture often stigmatizes movement and makes young people feel that in order to dance and move they have to be really good at it - or they should not try. The African drum and dance tradition infuses daily life with dance and movement and shatters the concept of movement being a scary or inappropriate mean of expression."