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It seems like just yesterday we were basking in the Ghanaian sun for the Return to the Reason Dance Festival Part 2, presented in partnership with The Afropole. In reality it’s been exactly one week since we returned stateside, which means it’s time for a recap and thank yous!
This year we focused on the music of our two corners of the diaspora -- soca and afrobeats. During Novemeber we held a contest to choose a festival theme song among the amazing musicians based in Ghana. In the end we crowned “Late Night” by Tunechi Wale, featuring Tyme 305 and Kulli Jay -- it was the clear crowd favorite.
For the kick-off at Rehab Beach Club on Labadi Beach in Accra, we gave the people a crash course in Caribbean carnival culture and listened to Tunechi Wale’s tracks and music from Black artists accross genres.
On day two we danced in celebration of the growing genre of afrosoca, a blend of afrobeats and soca rhythms and moves that is driving amazing connections between artists across the diaspora. With support from our gracious host Prof. Sena Atsugah, Ph.D., we gathered some of our favorite Accra-based dancers at the performing arts department of University of Ghana-Legon, and co-choreographed a DOPE routine to “Whole Place” by soca superstar Bunji Garlin and afrobeats headliner Fuse ODG. We tightened up our pilolo, loosened our gwara gwara, and admired the Azonto moves we saw from the 40 students, artists, and community members who came to learn and dance.
The final day, WE TOOK OVER THE ACCRA MALL PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE in our gems, wings, and festival T’s and performed the new routine for the community! We accidentally created a new industry providing traffic entertainment for everyone driving past on the highway below ;)
It was PHENOMENAL -- check out the recap video on IGTV!
Ghana Gave Us...
In addition to the festival, we experienced the importance of empowering women and girls in the arts. So let’s take a moment to affirm that if we stifle the creative expression of half our community, our art will no longer fully represent who we are as a people. Our heritage and legacy as a creative people can only grow if we allow all artists to access and add to it, regardless of gender, religion, or economic status.
We also learned just how connected we are! African retentions are alive and well in the Americas (North, South, and the Caribbean), as well as in the UK. And from hip hop music to salsa dancing, continental Africans are learning from their brothers and sisters abroad as well. No matter how far your feet take you, the homes, heritages, and cultures that shape you are always in your heart.
Lastly! IMMEASURABLE GRATITUDE to the following people & places -- we could not have done Return to the Reason Part 2 without you!
The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities
Amma Aboagye, The Afropole
Michael Aduama & Cynthia Muhjon, Rehab Beach Club
Sena Atsugah, Ph.D., The University of Ghana, Legon Campus
Antoine Mensah & DJ Masta Jay, Live FM
Rehab Resident Drum Circle
Nana Kwesi Bonsou
Additional shout-outs to:
Oye of Miss Ghana Taxi, Henry Costero, Ramsey Laweh, “Splendid,” “Jeff Washington,” and all the amazing dancers we met on days two and three!
STAY TUNED FOR THE WRAP-UP -- WE READY TO SHARE WHAT WE LEARNED WITH THE D.C. COMMUNITY!