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Ethan R. Sanders

intellectual, pan-African thinker, educator, and Christian preacher, was born in Anomabo, Gold Coast (now Ghana) on 18 October 1875. His father was Kodwo Kwegyir (1816–1896) of the Fante people who was the Omankyiame or hereditary spokesman for the paramount chief of Anomabo, and his mother was Abna Andua, scion of a chiefly family. At the age of eight, Aggrey left his home to attend the Methodist school in Cape Coast. In 1890 he started teaching in a rural village school and the following year returned to Cape Coast to become an assistant teacher at the Wesleyan Centenary Memorial School where he soon advanced to a senior position At this early stage in his life Aggrey became interested in Christian ministry He began preaching at sixteen and later assisted in the translation of a Fante language New Testament During this time Aggrey also became involved with the ...

Article

Christine Matzke

Eritrean comedian, theater artist, musician, and sports teacher, was born on 1 February 1925 during the Italian colonial period in Eritrea in Abba Shawl, the poor segregated Eritrean quarters of the capital Asmara. His father was Kahsay Woldegebr, and his mother, Ghebriela Fitwi.

At the age of ten he attended an Orthodox Church school and then received four years of Italian schooling, the maximum period of formal education for Eritreans under Italian rule. Thereafter Alemayo worked as a messenger for an Italian lawyer and, at the age of seventeen, found employment as a stagehand in Cinema Asmara, then Teatro Asmara, an imposing Italian theater and center for Italian social and cultural life. Here Alemayo was exposed to European variety shows, operas, and cinema that fascinated him greatly, particularly the genre of comedy, such as the works of Charlie Chaplin and the Neapolitan comedian Totò.

Italian colonization was characterized by strict ...

Article

Cynthia Tse Kimberlin

Ethiopian ethnomusicologist, composer, scholar, and teacher, was born in Addis Ababa. His paternal grandfather was Liqe Mekuwas Adinew Goshu, a renowned hero of the Battle of Adwa and a close confidant of Empress Taitu. His great grandfather, Dejazmach Goshu, served as a mentor and teacher to Emperor Tewodros. The most creative and artistic individual in his family was his mother, Fantaye Nekere, who composed verse and poetry. She taught Ashenafi about Ethiopian artistic forms, which he later drew upon for his work.

Ashenafi first showed an interest in music while attending Haile Selassie I Elementary School. After attending the Harar Teachers’ Training School, he taught music at Haile Sellassie I University and the Addis Ababa YMCA before obtaining his BA in Music (1962 from the University of Rochester s Eastman School of Music in the United States He returned to Addis Ababa to serve as the first official ...

Article

Karen Backstein

dancer, choreographer, and educator, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to a theatrical and musical family. One of New York's most superb and demanding jazz teachers, as well as an excellent choreographer, Benjamin began his career at the age of four, studying with Elma Lewis at her well-respected School of Fine Arts. Two years later, he started studying ballet, a requirement for all of Lewis's students, no matter which style they chose to focus on. When peer pressure led Benjamin to stop dancing briefly—a not uncommon situation for young male dancers—he shifted to acting, taking classes at Boston Children's Theatre. Two years later he returned to Lewis's school and found something new: George Howard, a teacher of Haitian dance. Still a child, Benjamin knew instantly that “that's the thing I wanted to do, with the drums and everything. It was so exciting to me” (Hall, 3).

Lewis ...

Article

Cara Moyer-Duncan

Ethiopian filmmaker and professor, was born on 4 March 1946 in Gondar, Ethiopia. Gerima’s father, Tafeka, was a playwright, teacher, and priest. His mother, also a teacher, often regaled him with stories from the Ethiopian oral tradition. He began acting in high school as a member of his father’s traveling theater company. His exposure to film started when he obtained a job at a local movie house. He became fascinated with foreign films, particularly Hollywood westerns. After completing high school, Gerima studied acting in Addis Ababa.

In 1967 Gerima traveled to the United States to attend the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago. There he experienced sociocultural isolation and racism. He was pressured to modify his accent and cast in plays that had no connection to his African experiences. Gerima turned to the African American community for support. Writings by Malcolm X and other black radicals provided inspiration. In 1968 ...

Article

Paul Schauert

Ghanaian choreographer, dancer, artist, and educator, was born on 13 November 1915 into a royal family of the Akan in central Ghana. His father, Nana Mawere Opoku, was the Okyeame (linguist) of the Asantehene (head chief of the Asante). His mother, Yaa Bemponmaalias Abena Kobina, was a renowned storyteller and the sister of the Asantehene’s chief linguist, Akyeamehene Kwasi Numah. Albert Mawere Opoku was thus in line to become an Okyeame himself and was the heir of the Gyasehene royal house. In addition to the special training in traditional lore and etiquette he acquired from his association with the royal house of the Asante, Opoku received his primary and secondary education at the Kumasi Government School (1921–1930).

After graduation, in 1931, he entered Achimota College (located near Accra, Ghana), where he studied for three years. Following a brief hiatus, he enrolled in 1939 in the Art ...