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Nigerian Drum and Dance Troupe to Perform

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY (September 23, 2004) — The Nigerian drum and masquerade dance troupe Ayan Agalu, led by preeminent traditional percussionist Lamidi Ayankunle, will perform at the Powerhouse Theater of Vassar College on Tuesday October 5 and Wednesday October 6, beginning both nights at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free, but tickets are limited and only available at the college's Office of Campus Activities (845-437-5370).

Ayan Agalu keeps alive an over 500-year-old tradition, and troupe members trace back their lineage to generations of drummers and dancers, according to Debra Klein, visiting assistant professor of anthropology at Vassar College. "The drum lines that accompany these masquerade dances are some of the most complicated and engaging in the world," said Klein. "In fact, the art and culture of Nigeria's Yoruba people have informed many familiar musical traditions, such as Cuban son and salsa, Brazilian samba, and even jazz and rock n' roll."

Klein explained that the tonal nature of the Yoruba language makes storytelling possible through polyrhythmic music, which is why, "In Ayan Agalu performances, the term 'talking drum' is apt. The drums literally speak, and the dancers respond by interpreting the stories that are being told through motion," said Klein

In keeping with traditional African artistry, Ayan Agalu's performances combine stunning costumes, absorbing rhythms, and acrobatic feats. The troupe has toured extensively in Europe, Japan, Singapore, India, and the Caribbean, and is based in Erin-Osun, Nigeria.

These performances at Vassar College are co-sponsored by the Africana Studies program and the department of anthropology. For more information, contact professor Debra Klein at (845) 437-7724, and deklein@vassar.edu.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact Cathy Jennings at (845) 437-5370. Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Thursday, September 23, 2004