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URA Archive
Scholars 2008 - 2009

Mya Ajanku, Dance and Education

“Field Analysis and Study of Traditional Dance Forms of the Ivory Coast”
Faculty Mentor: Doug Hamby
Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2009

In 2005, an initiative was started to preserve and perpetuate the traditional dance and drum customs of the Ivory Coast. This initiative is spear headed by Nai Zou Oliver (former member of one the Ivory Coast National Ballets) and has caught the attention and interest of the Mayor of Bassam. Through an audition process, I was selected by Nai Zou Oliver, as one of 22 dancers and musicians to represent America in the Ivory Coast. In July the company will take a two-week sojourn to the Ivory Coast to study and perform with companies and villages native to the Ivory Coast. This could be an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to study and to document dances that I have not previously been exposed to in 16-year study of West African dance and culture. This experience will allow me to observe and participate with indigenous cultures in their natural environment. Because some of the dances are performed only in the village, I will gain knowledge and experience that would be impossible for me to obtain in America. This experience enhance both my dance repertoire and our media library, since one of my goals is to create a short documentary that shine light on both African dance technique and the people of the Ivory Coast.