Last night was our kick-of concert at the NAC Fourth Stage. The room had a capacity crowd, with many of our friends, family and supporters in the community joining us to celebrate the kick-off to our tour to Ghana, coming up in just a couple of weeks….
There is so much I could say about the evening, from the fabulous energy in the room, to the professional quality of the sound and lights by the great 4th Stage team, to the goodwill and kind words shared by so many people, but I’d like to really focus on the youth themselves.
These 24 kids arrived for the sound check yesterday from various commitments including school, school exams, highland dancing exam, three day trip to Quebec city, and just their busy lives in general. We had one youth recovering from strep throat and another getting over walking pneumonia (in his case it should have been dancing pneumonia…).
Corralling everyone into a dress rehearsal is challenging, especially with the small stage area, large number of drums, and quick changes that had to happen between pieces. They always have great ideas about the artistic elements of the show as well, from encouraging each other to smile more, send out more energy, or try new ideas in the pieces themselves….I’ve really seen a lot of growth this year in their leadership and initiative skills.
The show itself was amazing…the energy building and building as the evening went on. We introduced the audience to the Ghanaian tradition of “dashing” dancers and drummers whose efforts and performance you appreciate by pasting coins and bills on their forehead while the music and dance is happening. This was a lot of fun and the audience really got into it! Soon there were loonies, toonies and $5 and $10 dollar bills floating around the dance floor. In Ghana, this money is collected and then shared equally amongst performers. We collected all the money and will make a donation to the Kathy Knowles Theatre and Dance Group, at the Nima Library in Accra when we spend the day with them on our trip. In total last night, the “dashing” raised $311.80!! Way to go!
We played a bit of Kinka, a new piece we will be focusing on in our studies in Ghana. Its a real community style piece and we were thrilled when three alumnae from the group Ben, Zoe & Emma jumped up from the audience to dance for us. After finishing a resounding high energy Gahu, we ended the show with the magical and soft sounds of Bell Forest, evoking that special time when the sun goes down, a lot of activity quiets, and the African air and light takes on an ethereal quality. At the end of the piece, when the drums and bells start to fade out, the kids left the stage one by one as our great tech guys slowly brought the lights down to nothing (insert sigh here).
Thanks to Rory and Ian for stage help, and the Baobab Board in general for their support of this event and during the year.
You know, there are many ways to make the world a better place and many things we can all do to contribute and give back. However, when an effort comes from your core being, and is aligned with your soul then it really packs a powerful punch. This Footsteps to Ghana Project is about helping youth expand their world and learn more about themselves so that whatever they find themselves doing in the future, they can connect to that soul quality. I LOVE watching that unfold in them, through the music and dance, the social elements of the group and of course the magic of being in Africa.
Here we go….