Indiana State University Newsroom

Hands-on African Drumming and Dance workshop set for March 23

March 13, 2012

A master musician and dancers from the Saakumu Dance Troupe of Ghana will host a hands-on African drumming and dance workshop at Indiana State University on Friday, March 23.

The two-hour workshop will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Nelson Mandela auditorium, located in the lower level of the African American Cultural Center.

The Saakumu Dance Troupe is the official performing group at this year's largest cultural festival in Ghana and is "dedicated to introducing audiences to traditional and contemporary African dance and music," according to its website,

The group's founder, master musician Bernard Woma, has toured the world as xylophonist and lead drummer of the National Dance Company of Ghana and performed for dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth II, Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton.

"These traditional African performers are some of the most talented artists from the country of Ghana," said Colleen Haas, lecturer of history and associate professor of African American studies at ISU. "They are very adept, entertaining and effective in teaching others within this workshop format."

Haas, who has professional training in percussion performance and ethnomusicology, co-organized the event with history professor Christopher Olsen.

"This opportunity promotes deeper appreciation for cultural diversity and supports multiple ways of learning, a goal with our integrative elective courses," said Haas, adding that it will be an "interesting and fun experience."

The event is free and open to students and community members. Participation in the workshop does not require previous experience in music or dance and is particularly suited for non-specialists, as step-by-step instructions will be provided.

Attendees are advised to wear comfortable clothing and be prepared to at least clap and sing along as prompted by workshop facilitators. While there will be a number of instruments for use at the event, participants are encouraged to bring their own hand drums if available.

The workshop is made possible through a mini grant from the office of Experiential Learning and Community Engagement and assistance from the Lilly Endowment and the Indiana State University office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

For questions or more information, contact Colleen Haas at 812-237-2553 or

Photo: -Connie Haas, lecturer in the department of history and African-American studies at Indiana State University, leads students in playing African drums in advance of a scheduled March 23 visit to ISU by master musician Bernard Woma and two dancers from Ghana. (ISU/Tony Campbell)

Contact: Colleen Haas, associate professor of African American studies, Indiana State University, at 812-237-2553 or

Writer: Bethany Donat, media relations assistant, ISU Communications and Marketing, 812-237-3773