Alokli West African Dance, founded in 1985, is a unique community and a unique dance company. Our name (Ah-Loh-KLEE) means "branch" in Ewegbe, the language of the Ewes of West Africa. In literature and song their culture is often compared to a mighty tree with deep roots, and thus our name. Modelled after traditional dance-drumming societies, Alokli adapts an ancient cultural heritage to enhance the lives of modern town dwellers, creating music and dance indigenous to the peoples of Philadelphia, PA.
The ensemble performs regularly at area schools, fairs, corporate events, and other venues. We sometimes donate performances to local fund-raising efforts for schools, charities, and the like. A typical performance features authentic drumming & song from several ethnic groups of Ghana, Togo, Nigeria and Benin. With colorful costumes and a variety of unusual native instruments, Alokli is always an exciting and crowd-pleasing show.
Classes and Services
Alokli offers ongoing adult and children's dance, music & singing classes. We publish and sell audio tapes, videos, and songbooks designed to teach and promote greater understanding of African music and culture. These materials are available to our classroom students directly, or to others via our on-line web store.
Over the years, Alokli has directly inspired related activities in local communities. Many ensemble members have gone on to teach African arts and culture as part of their job or community service work. We know of programs for middle-school and high-school students, autistic patients, abused children, disadvantaged teenagers, at least one dance/therapy class, and a music program for theatrical students - all evolving from our classroom and performance activities. Teachers from other schools are welcome to attend Alokli classes and take what they learn back to their own classrooms.
But watch the faces of a typical Alokli audience for the real story on community impact. Few performing ensembles can shake up people's fixed ideas about African culture in quite the way that we do. Alokli is a unique experience for audiences wherever we perform.
Religious and Political Affiliations
In case you're wondering we are neither a religious group nor particularly active politically, any more than a Chamber Music ensemble is necessarily active in Viennese politics. For us, African dance-drumming is among the great cultural treasures of the world; right up there with Beethoven, Rumi and Chinese cuisine. We play and dance because it makes us feel good, because it gives us community and spirituality, and because we're fortunate enough to have several great teachers living nearby. Our one radical notion is that people are people wherever you go, and we promote that viewpoint wherever we go. For an alternative point a view, click here.
Dan Gorlin is founder and Director of Alokli West African Dance, and a Master Drummer in the tradition of the Ewes of West Africa. Dan currently teaches our drum and song workshops.
Peace Elewonu is Alokli's dance instructor and principal dancer. She is a native of Ghana and has travelled the world as a choreographer, performer and dance instructor. Please see her bio for more information.
* * *