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Ghanaian Dance Nani Agbeli to Perform at Kutztown University

February 4, 2014

KUTZTOWN, Pa. - Nani Agbeli, noted dancer and drummer from Ghana, will perform on Feb. 18, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. in Schaeffer Auditorium.  He will be joined by Kutztown University African Percussion Ensemble and student dancers and singers. The performance is free and open to the public.

Known for his energy, athleticism, and precision on stage, the charismatic Nani Agbeli is one of the leading Ghanaian dancers of his generation. Born into a family of prominent dancers and drummers in Ghana's Volta region, he was trained by his father, the late Godwin K. Agbeli, who performed with the Arts Council of Ghana Folkloric Company and later served as chairman of the Ghanaian National Association of Cultural Groups. 

Agbeli went on to study with artists at the National Arts Center in Accra and, for many years, led the award-winning cultural troupe Sankofa Roots II. For nine years he served as the lead drum and dance instructor at the Dagbe Cultural Center, a school that trains domestic and international students in Ghanaian traditional arts.

Agbeli will be working with KU students for two days preparing for the performance. The KU African Percussion Ensemble has existed on campus for three years and focuses on the music of the Ewe people of Ghana. Todd Rober, associate professor of music and ensemble director, spent a month during graduate school studying in Ghana at the Dagbe Cultural Center with Agbeli's father.

Nani currently lives in Boston, Mass., and is on the Music Department faculty of Tufts University where he directs the Kiniwe Ensemble and teaches an integrated curriculum in the traditional singing, drumming and dancing of Ghana. He also teaches Ghanaian dance and drumming at Brandeis University and Mount Holyoke College. In addition, he's taught at Berklee College of Music, the Edna Manley School in Jamaica, Bowling Green University, and the University of Virginia, and held artistic residencies at many other colleges. He also is the Artistic Director of the Agbekor Drum and Dance Society, a community-based group in Greater Boston that was founded by Professor David Locke of Tufts University.  Agbeli also leads study tours to Ghana in July-August each year.