“Sohoyini” translates literally as ‘one heart’ in the Dagbani language of the Dagomba people in Northern Ghana. Sohoyini was created in efforts to unite cultures and to celebrate our diversity through the beautiful dance and music of Africa.
On March 21, 2015, Awal Alhassan, traditional African percussionist and dancer, will bring his West African dance company Sohoyini to Crossroads Bellevue for a special, FREE performance for families and people of all ages to enjoy. To get you ready for his performance, we asked him a few questions – take a peek!
NWFL: How did Sohoyini African Dance form and when?
Sohoyini was founded in 2005 by Dance Director and Choreographer Awal Alhassan when he moved to the United States from Ghana West Africa.
NWFL: What is the cultural background of your performance/art form?
Sohoyini is a pan-African collaboration of traditional arts embracing the music and dance from the countries of Ghana and Guinea, as well as other cultures from the African continent. Sohoyini means “one heart.” We celebrate not only our roots, but the branches of our new global culture.
NWFL: What is one thing you want your community to know about your work?
Sohoyini strives to provide a cultural experience that opens minds and hearts to the spirit of Africa. As a music and dance company, Sohoyini celebrates not only the Dagbon tradition of Ghana, but also that of all traditions and backgrounds in which we share the common belief that as human beings, we are one people. Through this we celebrate the true spirit of Africa. By singing, dancing, and making music, we make the movement towards, “one-heart, one-people.”
A performance of celebration that will lighten your spirit and bring happiness to your heart.
NWFL: Tell us about the choreography and some of Awal’s inspirations?
Awal Alhassan is the principle choreographer of Sohoyini Dance Company. Many of the dances from Sohoyini are traditional dances from Ghana and other parts of Africa, which Awal has arranged in a modern form. Awal also has created original dances that he has choreographed for the stage, which incorporate contemporary movements influenced by pan-African traditions.
Awal Alhassan has been an ambassador of the Dagomba Traditions for as long as he can remember. Born into a traditional drumming and dancing family in Tamale, Ghana, he has spent his life devoted to the arts of his culture. In addition to his involvement in traditional ceremonies, he has also been extremely involved and passionate in helping to keep his traditions alive. He has worked with numerous performance groups throughout the world, entertaining and educating people of virtually all cultural backgrounds.
Awal has been a professional dancer since he was a young boy. Most notably, Awal was a member of the Centre for National Culture, as well as the National Dance Theatre of Ghana.
NWFL: How did you first come to be involved with Northwest Folklife?
Awal Alhassan has performed with countless groups at Northwest Folklife in the past, including his own Sohoyini Dance Company.
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