Ghanaian, West African music and dance is full of expression and relates to life as it exists in Ghana. Music is everywhere in Ghana. On any given day, strolling through a village one may hear a mother singing a lullaby to her child, a man singing a work song as he cuts down a tree for firewood, a child singing an insult song to a cousin, or someone singing a dirge for a lost loved one. You may hear children drumming while imitating their older siblings, or perhaps there is a funeral for which communal musical performances will continue deep into the night.
In Ghanaian culture, life is reflected and portrayed through the movements and rhythms used in music, dance, and song.
Ghanaian music is based in polyrhythms; multiple rhythms woven together to create a more complex, irresistible sound. And the best African dancers are able to communicate those rhythms while enacting the story represented by the dance. Watching Nani perform, you will feel the music, taste the culture, and gain a greater understanding of the people from which they came. Nani performs solo with accompanying drummers, and also as a member of Volta Drum Dance, where he serves as artistic director.
As an experienced teacher, Nani tailors his workshops for what each individual group wishes to accomplish. He can create a fun introduction, delighting participants with how much they can learn in an hour or less. He can work with advanced music or dance students, giving them a deeper exposure to the West African genre. Of course he can also gear a session towards teachers or parents, who want to use what they learn in the classroom, or at home. No matter the details, Nani’s workshops and seminars are universally fun, inspiring, educational, and memorable.
Nani's hands-on teaching style enables students to achieve their highest potential while exploring the vibrant and dynamic musical arts of Ghana. Beginners will learn the basic fundamentals and develop an understanding of Ghanaian music and dance, while intermediate and advanced students will enhance and master their technique and skills. Nani guides each student step-by-step through every nuance of style, detail of movement, and precision of technique, regardless of their music or dance background.
Nani grew up in Ghana among a family with great pride and passion for their rich culture, and was inspired by the significance of cultural traditions and their ability to unify diverse people and communities. Godwin K. Agbeli and Victori A. Kudezi-Agbeli immersed their son, Nani, from a young age in traditional Ghanaian music and dance, notably permitting and encouraging his attendance at rehearsals and performances. Nani emerged from those experiences eager to embrace Ghanaian music and dance in his own unique and extraordinary way.
“In the early years of my training I felt my teachers were being quite tough on me. However with time, I was finally able to understand the tacit knowledge of our ancestors that my instructors were trying to convey to me. The wisdom as to why they created this style of music/culture the way they did. What I learned is the importance of not simply completing an action, but rather the need to immerse myself in the intricacy of each movement, drum beat and vocal intonation.
That deeper interaction forced me to reflect on how the information my ancestors embedded into the art form is still relevant to all of our personal journeys today. How important it is for whatever we do or face in life, to let us focus on and enjoy every step of the journey as that will make the destination more meaningful. Now before I perform or teach, I always take a moment to reflect on how I can convey as much of this embodied knowledge to my audience, so that the journey I take them on leads them to a spectacular destination.”
MUSIC AND DANCE: FOOD OF MY SOUL