Renowned Ghanaian choreographer and Artistic Director of the Noyam African Dance Institute, Nii-Tete Yartey has hoisted the flag of Ghana high with Noyam’s new feature in an upcoming dance project.
As part of preparation towards their bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Noyam African Dance Institute has teamed up with ME Dance Company in the UK and Conception Dance Theatre from Grenada with support from the British Council UK for a spectacular dance production.
According to Nii-Tete Yartey, the project dubbed ‘Oceans of Independence’ looks at history, our ancestors, and its connection with our contemporary identity, while sharing stories and traditions from across the sea.
The award-winning dance director disclosed that the key players in the project; ME Dance Company, NOYAM African Dance Institute, and Conception Dance Theatre decided to do an experimental piece on July 8, 2021, to figure out how technology can be used to collaborate in putting up a production simultaneously with three different countries and three different time zones in this COVID-19 era.
The Noyam African Dance Institute carried out their part of the project by exhibiting beautifully choreographed contemporary dances with strong symbolic and aesthetic themes echoing Ghana’s rich heritage at their dance theatre located that Dodowa.
ME Dance Company also carried out their side of the dance project pilot from the UK while Conception Dance Theatre also did theirs all in sync to make it appear as though the project was executed at the same place and time.
“There were three things we were trying to achieve which are; experiment on ways to create work together remotely. Secondly, how to use technology as an opportunity to still create works during these constraining times. The third was also to provide cross-cultural training for the dances in the various institutions which are NOYAM, ME and Conception.
The production happened between three different time zones and countries simultaneously. So, with each country, what each choreographer was trying to do was to create a piece that was well-grounded in its traditional form or roots and use that to develop works that resonate with a modern feel,” Mr. Yartey stated.
“If you look at the three various dance companies, from the UK, Marcia Edwards echoed her toots in modern dance. Celia also relied on some of her indigenous influences from Granada. NOYAM, on the other hand, added the Ghanaian, and by extension the African identity and voice which was evident in the choice and execution of movement vocabulary, how the choreography was rendered on stage, the kind of costuming, and even the set that was used. The set had Kente and calabashes among other recognizable Ghanaian elements.
Lessons from project
Speaking about the experiences from the project, Nii-Tete Yartey disclosed that the entire production team took a few lessons from the project which will always be part of them. “In light of COVID, whenever there is a challenge, artistes always find a way to create work and render their art,” he noted.
He explained that Ghana has a strong voice to contribute when it comes to contemporary African dance, its development, and its presentation across the globe.