Staging Ghana

Staging Ghana

Artistry and Nationalism in State Dance Ensembles
Paul Schauert
Distribution: World
Publication date: 8/17/2015
ISBN: 978-0-253-01749-9
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The Ghana Dance Ensemble takes Ghana’s national culture and interprets it in performance using authentic dance forms adapted for local or foreign audiences. Often, says Paul Schauert, the aims of the ensemble and the aims of the individual performers work in opposition. Schauert discusses the history of the dance troupe and its role in Ghana’s post-independence nation-building strategy and illustrates how the nation’s culture makes its way onto the stage. He argues that as dancers negotiate the terrain of what is or is not authentic, they also find ways to express their personal aspirations, discovering, within the framework of nationalism or collective identity, that there is considerable room to reform national ideals through individual virtuosity.

Author Bio

Paul Schauert is a lecturer in Ethnomusicology at Oakland University (Michigan).


"I have long thought that a book on the Ghana Dance Ensemble should be written. Paul Schauert's argument that nationalism becomes a resource in the performances of individual artists is strong and coherent." —Cati Coe, Rutgers University

"Paul Schauert's attention to the intricacies of individual motives for participation, the troupe's objectives in relationship to the nationalist project, and the role of economic reward add an important dimension to scholarly understanding of institutionalized music and dance practices in African countries." —Lisa Gilman, University of Oregon

"Schauert's ethnographic overview of state dance ensembles in Ghana is based on fieldwork and collaborative artistic productions. A musician himself, Schauert . . . presents first-person narratives of creative experiments alongside excellent historical overviews of music and dance in intertwined performances of the Ghana Dance Ensemble (based at the Univ. of Ghana, Legon) and the National Dance Company of Ghana. Recommended." —

"With theory well grounded in (and balanced by) richly textured ethnography and analyses, Staging Ghana is a valuable addition to the literature in the ever-growing fields of African studies and performance studies. Its examination of nationalism, creativity, postcolonialism, culture, music, and dance give it great multidisciplinary relevance." —Anthropos

"Staging Ghana is a valuable addition to the slowly growing body of work about dance and dance companies in contemporary Africa." —Ghana Studies

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Table of Contents



List of PURL Audio and Video Files
Introduction: Crossing Crocodiles and Staging Ethnography

1. Beyond Ethnicity, Beyond Ghana: Staging and Embodying African Personality

2. Dancing Essences: Sensational Staging and the Cosmopolitan Politics of Authentication
3. Soldiers of Culture: Discipline, Artistry, and Alternative Education
4. Speak to the Wind: Staging the State and Performing Indirection
5. “We are the Originals!”: A Tale of Two Troupes and the Birth of Contemporary Dance in Ghana
6. Politics of Personality: Creativity, Competition, and Self-Expression within a Unitary Matrix
Conclusion: Dancing Between Self, State, and Nation
References and Bibliography