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Creative Artist: A Journal of Theatre and Media Studies

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Performing arts and change management in syncretized African performances: a study of “Odiiche Dance”

Nnamdi C. Mbara, Jenifer T. Okonkwo

Abstract


African performances and tradition form important parts of literature in Africa. In fact, even in this 21st century, which is characterized by audio and digital recordings, the bulk of African performances are still not recorded. African performance, as generally known, is dependent on the performer(s) and audience. The audience, until recently, played an active role in traditional African performances. This was at a time when the performer(s) and the audience held the same belief and cultural system. In whichever way the performance manifested itself; in dance, music, drama, oral poetry recitals or folktales, the performers and the audience mostly merged as one and saw the performance as a communal activity and, therefore, did all there was to ensure its success. But recent developments, beginning with Euro-Christian advent, have served to distraught a once active audience into a modern passive one. The advent of the foreigners who introduced beliefs and cultural systems new to the African, has served to disrupt the African performance which had always been the main form of entertainment, education and moral edification. Sad to say, as a result of this, African performances in its original rendition, have now metamorphosed into western classical performances. This trend cannot be reversed easily; however, it can be adapted to boost active participation in African performances. This paper examines those beliefs and cultural systems which have shattered the very foundations of African performances. The researchers therefore evaluated and analyzed these challenges through interview, case study and content analysis approaches of the qualitative research method. Most importantly, the paper focuses on the blending of both the European and African cultures for a positive change. It concludes that despite the changing nature of the performances, African performances still retains its taste and her audiences are still alive, hence, with the case study of the “Odiiche Dance”. It is also the recommendation of the researchers that African-centered courses be taught throughout the educational levels in such a way as to refute the thinking that only the uncivilized persons participate in African traditional performances.



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