Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Adowa Dance – A Traditional Dance, Music & Song – Ghana, West Africa

Adowa Dance – A Traditional Dance, Music & Song – Ghana, West Africa
Submitted by Doris Green - March 8, 2011 

The Ashanti Adowa is the funeral dance of the Akan people of Ghana. This dance is also practiced along the eastern border of Ivory Coast that has an Akan population. Although the word 'Adowa' means antelope, an antelope has no significance in the dance movement, not even in the eloquent hand movements.

Death is generally associated with the elderly therefore, most of the time when we view this dance, we see the elderly population performing this dance. But the youth also attend these funerals and they perform a much more energetic version of the dance with jumps.

You will notice the practice of 'dashing' giving money or pasting money on the head of a good performer. 

The instruments used in the ensemble are Dawuro split pea bell, Mmerima drum, (played with forked sticks) Mprentia drum played with the hands, and the Atumpan drums - two drums played with forked sticks by one player. Occasionally the Atumpan drummer will play the rhythm on one drum only. When he makes this change, in order for me to notate this in Greenotation, I use the horizontal bow (support) to show that the left stick is now playing on the right hand drum.They also use a tension drum  called "Lunga" in northern Ghana and Donno in southern Ghana.

[For an example of Greenotation that contains the horizontal bow, go here.]

This dance was introduced to the United States through Professor Albert Mawere Opoku and the Ghana National Dance Ensemble that came to New York in the late sixties.

Doris Green
Fulbright Scholar to Africa
Certified teacher of Labanotation
US State Department Cultural Specialist to Ghana
ISBN: 978 -1-60911-458-9