OAC

Interviewed at Ohio University, Athens by Sandra Grady
1 May 2011

Azaguno is an African drumming and dance ensemble group founded by Paschal Yao Younge, EdD and Zelma Badu-Younge, PhD. Currently, Dr. Younge serves as its Executive and Music Director and Dr. Badu-Younge serves as Choreographer and Director of Dance. Paschal was born in Ghana and Zelma, although born in the United States, spent her formative years in Ghana, during which time she was completely immersed in Ghanaian culture and lifestyle. Both artists live in the Athens, Ohio area, where they teach African music and dance at Ohio University.

Azaguno multi-ethnic ensemble is dedicated to research, preservation, education and performance of traditional African music and dance, as well as African-American, Caribbean and Latin American music and dance. Performers in Azaguno come largely from the ranks of the Younges’ former students at Ohio University and West Virginia Universities, who generally apprentice for about two or three years after their undergraduate and graduate exposure to African music and dance before joining the full troupe, which performs locally, across the US, and around the world. The group is made up of 25 musicians and dancers including 10 apprentices. In addition to performing, Azaguno works with the Ohio Global Institute, which attempts to bring global education into the public school system in Ohio.

In order to accomplish his research and educational mission, Dr. Younge returns to Ghana about twice a year, once with students to provide study abroad experiences and the other to do research that allows him to incorporate diverse African styles into Azaguno’s repertoire. The group and some members appeared at several national and international festivals and conferences in Canada, China, France, Germany, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan and United States. Some of the festivals include 2011 Taiwan International Percussion Convention, Seoul International Drum Festival, Taiwan International Percussion Summer Festival, Sacheon International Percussion Festival, Taiwan International Dance Festival, Lotus World Music and Arts Festival, Hsin Chu Folk Drum International Festival, Percussive Arts Society International Convention, Pan-African Historical Theater Festival, Festival International De Jazz De Montreal, Dancing on the Edge Festival, Canada Dance Festival, and France International Folkloric Festival.

The group also represented the US at the FIFA World Cup Opening Ceremony and Games in Seoul, Korea in 2002. Recent appearances include: Taiwan International Percussion Convention, May 20-29, 2011, African Network Conference, Denison University, April 17, 2010, Workshop at the XI Biennial International, Symposium & Festival of CIMA (Center for Intercultural Music Arts) at the Facultad de Educación y Humanidades of Melilla, of the Universidad of Granada: April 7-11, 2010, 
 Anderson International Festival, SC, January 29 &30, Yilan International Rain Festival in Taiwan from July 24-August 24, 2009, Lotus Blossom Festival, Bloomington, Indiana, March 23-28, 2009, 
Educational Workshop and Performance, African Music and Dance, at World 
Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Education “Respecting Traditions: Shaping the Future” the Kulin Nation, Melbourne, Australia December 7-11, Performance at the 28TH World Conference of the International Society for Music Education (ISME 2008), Bologna, Italy, July 20-25, 2008. 
 The group will be performing the with the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra in Hong Kong, China in November of 2011 and International Association of Blacks in Dance/Dance Immersion Festival, Toronto, Canada, January 25-29. 2012.

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