Ogun & the People

Kulu Mele African Dance and Drum Ensemble



Kulu Mele, "Celebrating Senegal," dancer/drummer Edward Smallwood performs a dance about the Balanta people. Photo by Jaci Downs.


Kulu Mele, "Orisha Suite" performance. Pictured: Kulu Mele dance captain Ama Schley and dancer/drummer Yusuf Young as the Afro-Cuban orishas (dieties). Photo by Jaci Downs.


Kulu Mele, "Sobuniquin" performance at Jacob’s Pillow Dancce Festival, Beckent, MA. Pictured: James Ali Wilkie and Ira Bond. Photo by Christopher Duggan.

Kulu Mele African Dance & Drum Ensemble will interpret a traditional Afro-Cuban Yoruba parable through movement and music with the creation of Ogun & the People. Led by Kulu Mele artistic director Dorothy Wilkie, the full-length narrative dance, exploring the story of the Yoruba deity Ogun, will be developed during a company residency with the folkloric performance troupe Ballet Folklórico Cutumba in Santiago de Cuba. Wilkie will use elements of traditional Yoruba culture, which originates in West Africa and includes dance, song, and storytelling, to express contemporary relevance around themes of community and personal spiritual practice. Set elements and staging will be conceived by artist Ife Nii-Owoo, accompanied by colorful, traditionally-styled costumes designed by Wilkie, and percussion arranged and directed by John Wilkie. A short video documenting the company’s practice and artistic development process will be incorporated into the culminating production.

Additional unrestricted funds are added to each grant for general operating support.