In honour of Black History month, our Baobab Youth Performers gave a concert this morning at Carleton Heights School here in Ottawa. Arriving in time for a short warm-up, we were warmly welcomed by Principal Jim Taylor, and the rest of the staff. Performing for this small school was a treat! Unlike many elementary schools where music has been cut, this small school has a BIG focus on music. Every one of the 150 students takes music as part of their regular timetable. They play instruments including recorder, as well as a special unit they did with a class set of djembe drums earlier this year. They were an attentive and engaged audience and responded well to the Ghanaian chants we taught them, as well as some spontaneous dancing and terrific questions at the end.
It was a pretty exciting concert from our viewpoint as well! Because it was during school time some of our students were not able to make it due to tests etc. This meant that those performing had to rearrange themselves and cover extra parts. In addition, it was the first time Riley played lead drum for Gota…a goal he has been working hard on since the fall. It went very well!
We had a moment of strange serendipity though, when I introduced Fume Fume and told the audience that the translation of the song were going to sing was “I shall dance Fume Fume until I die!”, meaning that the dancing was SO strenuous, that they would be exhausting themselves. Its true that the dancing IS very strenuous. Shortly after the piece began, one of our youngest and newest performers began to bleed from her foot (an old wound that had reopened due to the dance moves). At first we tried to ignore it…she was smiling and continuing to dance well. But it soon became evident that her foot was not going to give up, and there was a substantial amount of blood on the dance floor which was beginning to be a slippery problem for the other dancers. True professionals though, everyone kept going. We finally signaled to the injured dancer to go get some bandages from our manager Hayley and we finished the piece. What a trouper! These are the kinds of stories that make it into our oral history amongst performers…just like Anna dancing with a bleeding foot in Ghana, and like the Bell Forest that lasted over an hour last season….
Always proud to perform with this wonderful bunch of teens! We look forward to future projects with Carleton Heights.