Thiossane West African Dance Institute came to campus last Friday, on the last day of Black History Month, to perform for about 75 guests, both from Wittenberg and the Springfield community, in Bailey Auditorium.
The group, based in Columbus, danced to traditional drum music for about an hour and also educated audience members about the culture and history of West African music and groups.
The music and dances come from Senegal, Mali, and Guinea in West Africa and are performed for a variety of reasons, such as for transitions throughout life and for healthy complete pregnancies, as well as for greetings to the royal court.
Although the dances and music have historic and cultural relevance, Thiossane has additional personal reasons for their performances.
“We use this art form to grow these young men and young women,” said Suzan Bradford Kounta, Creative Director of Thiossane.
She also added the group promotes “using the music for personal and social development.”
Kounta introduced other members of the group throughout the night, as well as explaining the different roles of the drums.
“Each of these drums has a voice; that voice is important,” she said. The drums set the rhythm and also tell the dances when to change steps in the dance.
For their last piece, the group invited audience members to learn a dance as well. The temporary dance floor was filled with people learning various steps and piecing them all together to an African drum beat.