Children of Uganda
Throughout a performance that mixes old and new, the music is marked by sophisticated shifting rhythms. Dancers smoothly pivot, plié, and small-step, riding the rhythm. Hips seem to be in constant motion while arms branch and curl independently. As in much traditional African dance, the center of gravity is low. Drums and a gigantic xylophone figure prominently, as do gorgeous call-and-response vocals. Everyone is given a chance to show off, and gleaning something of each child's personality through her or his performing style is a special bonus.
As Kasule, an original member of the group, says, "The arts have survived in Uganda and throughout all of Africa, though borders may have moved and country names changed. Dance, music, and storytelling record our histories and instill values. . . . They are a teacher and tool of survival."
"Africa is part of everyone's life, whether they know it or not," John Ryle observes. "It has given us the soundtrack of modernity. And here is one generalization it is safe to make Africa is where we come from."
[Review published March 2006]