After five weeks of practice at SARD, we spent one of our last days in Cape Coast presenting all that we had learned for a final showcase in our graduation ceremony. We had spent our weeks learning two Fanti songs, two drumming routines, and two dances. The opportunity to show visually how all of us had immersed into the musical culture of Ghana allowed us to not only have fun, but also learn in a hands-on experience. The day was filled with challenges that we had to adapt to, but taken all together the experience was truly beautiful.
The main challenge that loomed over our heads was the ominous dark rain clouds that crept closer and closer as the performance went on. As they approached, they brought the rain. Simply, we had to carry on in spite of the weather change. We had moments where we were dancing in the rain or watching rain drops splash on to our drums and shoulders as we played our songs. Even though the rain changed our environment rather rapidly, we all adapted to our surroundings and persevered. Strangely the rain actually brought our smiles out and we only enjoyed our performance even more. Some of us made awkward eye contact with each other, reading each other’s minds, “Are we really doing this?” “Yup, this is Africa,” and chuckling through the performance. The other mishaps that came our way only added to the memorable experience. We had a song that went on far too long due to our missing conductor, the great Mr. Hooper. We had a surprise costume change, and a slight wardrobe malfunction.
We definitely faced our challenges and put on a wonderful show! However, the most remarkable part of the performance was being able to watch the six students from Cape Deaf dance during the ceremony. These students even though they cannot hear the music are truly beautiful and talented dancers. They dance through counts and through sensing the changes in the music from the drum’s change in vibration patterns. If you close your eyes, you can feel the drum beat in your heart. I was fortunate to have the experience to visit Cape Deaf and dance with the students there. They allowed me to dance with them and learn several more Ghanaian dances. Additionally, because of my dance background, Mr. Hooper allowed me to teach a group of students an Indian dance. We practiced without music and simply just by using counts, but on the day of the graduation ceremony, three other girls and I performed the Indian dance using an Indian song I had on my computer. Somehow it all came together, the dance that was put together merely by counts fused with the music wonderfully in one of the most amazing cultural exchanges I have ever had. I will never forget the time I spent with Egbert, Kweku, Richard, Victoria, Hannah, and Georgina. I hope we all never stop dancing and dance for the rest of our lives.