Arts and Entertainment

African group to dance, drum at outdoor festival

Awal Alhassan, of Tamale, Ghana, lead dancer of Sohoyini, headlines Vashon Allied Arts’ World Music Festival Aug. 9 at Camp Burton. - Courtesy photo
Awal Alhassan, of Tamale, Ghana, lead dancer of Sohoyini, headlines Vashon Allied Arts’ World Music Festival Aug. 9 at Camp Burton.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Vashon Allied Art’s World Music Festival, slated for 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, at Camp Burton outdoor amphitheater, will feature four groups, including African dance/drum group Sohoyini.

The band’s name translates to “one heart” in the Dagbani language of Northern Ghana.

“We created Sohoyini with the hope of uniting cultures and celebrating our diversity through the beautiful dance and music of West Africa,” the band wrote on its MySpace page. “We really believe that music and dance are art forms that can change the world.”

Sohoyini’s lead dancer Awal Alhassan brings contagious exuberance to the group’s performances as he leaps onto the stage with a smile and beckons audience members to join him.

For Alhassan, dance is life. Growing up in Tamale, Ghana, he danced and drummed with his family for their daily entertainment. He has taught drumming and dancing since age 7 and led his own after-school dance program in Ghana. He has performed throughout Africa, including at the National Theater of Ghana.

Bringing his joyful energy to the Northwest, he now teaches classes and workshops at Velocity Dance Center and Spectrum Dance Theater and performs in the Seattle area and beyond.

Sohoyini’s self-titled debut compact disc blends upbeat traditional and contemporary music recorded in the United States and Ghana. The CD will be available for purchase at the festival.

Tickets, available now at Blue Heron and Heron’s Nest, are $12 VAA members, seniors and students, $14 general admission and $5 for ages 12 and under. Call  463-5131 to reserve. Delicious food will be provided all evening by Shefidgets Catering.

Camp Burton is an alcohol-free venue.

World Music Festival is sponsored by Boeing and the Vashon Park District with additional support from Vashon Thriftway, Arts Fund and Washington Stage Arts Commission.

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