Nani Agbeli, noted dancer and drummer from Ghana, will perform with the Kutztown University African and World Percussion Ensembles on Thursday, March 31, at 7:30 p.m. inSchaeffer Auditorium. The program will also include student dancers and singers. Agbeli previously visited campus in February, 2014. Also on the program will be performances by World Percussion ensembles focusing on music from Brazil and the Caribbean that has roots in African-derived traditions. Dr. Frank Kumor, director of Percussion Studies, leads these groups, and has published and presented multiple clinics on world music traditions.
Known for his energy, athleticism and precision on stage, the charismatic Agbeli is one of the leading Ghanaian dancers of his generation. Born into a family of prominent dancers and drummers in Ghana’s Volta region, he was trained by his father, the late Godwin K. Agbeli, who performed with the Arts Council of Ghana Folkloric Company and later served as chairman of the Ghanaian National Association of Cultural Groups.
Agbeli went on to study with artists at the National Arts Center in Accra and, for many years, led the award-winning cultural troupe Sankofa Roots II. For nine years, he served as the lead drum and dance instructor at the Dagbe Cultural Center, a school that trains domestic and international students in Ghanaian traditional arts.
Agbeli will work with KU students during his week-long residency on campus preparing for the performance. The Kutztown African ensemble has existed on campus for five years, and focuses on the music of the Ewe people of Ghana. Its director, Dr. R. Todd Rober, spent a month during graduate school studying in Ghana at the Dagbe Cultural Center with Godwin Agbeli.
Nani Agbeli is director of West African Music, Dance and Arts (Ghana) at the California Institute of the Arts. He has previously taught at Tufts University, Brandeis University, Berklee College of Music, the Edna Manley School in Jamaica, Bowling Green University, and the University of Virginia and held artistic residencies at many other colleges. He also leads study tours to Ghana during the summer each year.
His appearance at Kutztown University is one of the featured events on campus celebrating the Sesquicentennial of the University. His residency is sponsored by the Multicultural Center, a Sesquicentennial Academic Grant, the Association of Campus Events and the Department of Music.