The Ole Miss African Drum and Dance Ensemble will be holding its 2015 spring concert at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Nutt Auditorium. The concert will consist of five Ghanaian dances, Bamaaya, Damba Takai, Gahu, Kpanlogo and Borborbor. There will also be guest artists D.J. Culp Jr. and Trap Set.
George W. K. Dor, who is the director of the group, founded the ensemble in September 2003.
“We now have about 18 members,” Dor said. “Some are taking a course in African music and dance. Others are members of the community (and) from other departments. Others have taken this same course before. They’re not in the group for the sake of earning credits.”
Faculty members, as well as some of their family members, are a part of the drum and dance ensemble.
One of those members is percussionist Donte Ferrell, who said he was introduced to the ensemble through Darrin Bynum, a relative from his hometown.
“I plan to finish my last two semesters right beside my favorite instructor, Dr. Dor,” Ferrell said.
Ferrell, a junior, has been a member of the Ole Miss African Drum and Dance Ensemble since the spring of his freshman year. He will be playing African instruments that include drums, bells and ratchets.
“I will also be singing songs written by our instructor,” Ferrell said.
Bammaaya, meaning “the river valley is wet,” is a dance from Northern Ghana that can be expected at Tuesday’s concert.
“We learned this dance specifically towards the Black History Month,” Dor said. “It may be a final opportunity for those who missed the Black History Month concert to see it.”
This selection’s backstory comes from the expressions of gratitude men and women had towards the Tingbani, the gods of the land, for allowing heavy rain after a severe drought.
“It’s a new dance, but it’s a very interesting dance,” Dor said.
Borborbor, another piece in the concert, is what Dor said might be the most popular dance among the Ewe of Ghana.
“Only women do this dance,” Dor said. “It has found its way into our churches, and new songs have been composed by Christians, so that’s a good reflection in our performance.”
“Winners Never Quit, Quitters Never Win, Never, Never, Give Up!” was composed by Dor and will also be featured in the concert.
“We’ve performed this about three times, but I like the song so much because it’s like an encouragement to students, to faculty, to staff, to anybody – even myself,” Dor said. “After final exams, some people will be graduating, and they’ll be receiving their diploma. So, there is a saying in that, ‘Do not give up because your diploma is inside, so never never, never give up. Just persevere.’”
Dor said he meant the song to be an encouragement to the campus. In the scheme of the event, however, it lines up as one of the many ways Dor hopes to show African culture and dance to the Ole Miss community.
“We have worked endless hours on Monday nights all this semester to make sure that we have a successful concert, but not only successful for us, but to be pleasing to our audience,” Ferrell said.
“We don’t have any African Drum and Dance Ensembles in the state of Mississippi in the academic place. We are the only (one),” Dor said. “People will use this to learn about African culture.”