T. Ayo Alston

This course is open to all students across the university. Enrollment is limited.

Fridays, 2-4pm
Dance Studio 3, Dance Building

Students can enroll under ENS 307.002/407.002
Dance students can enroll under DANCE 128.006

The University of Michigan welcomes T. Ayo Alston, founder and director of Chicago-based Ayodele Drum and Dance, for a semester-long course in West African Drum & Dance. T. Ayo Alston teaches and practices a signature theatrical style of West African drum and dance culture that captures the strength and power of women and community. Through Ayodele, she has performed, educated, fostered interpersonal healing, and created artistic work from a foundation of traditional African cultures fused with contemporary dance styles.

This unique opportunity is open to any student across the university interested in learning these techniques and made possible with support from the Arts Initiative. 

This course will engage foundational techniques, terminology, and history of traditional West African Dances, primarily those derived from the Old Mali Empire. Technique Building Rituals will condition the body and refine the ear for the polycentric and polyrhythmic requirements for students new to this form or building on prior experience. 

Additionally, this course will introduce, analyze and understand the musicality of traditional rhythms on drums and other percussive instruments that align with traditional music from Mali, Guinea, and Ivory Coast.

Students will move through this class exploring West African drumming and dancing in a way that allows them to gain the knowledge, vocabulary, and skills necessary to understand and execute movements safely, with proper form, and contextual history all while releasing tension through drumming, sweating hard, and having a blast.