Contemporary Ghanaian Performing Arts

Contemporary Ghanaian performing arts have been influenced by foreign culture, technology, and education. It is a synergy of the indigenous performing arts with the Western cultural forms of performing arts. There are three main forms of performing arts practiced by the Ghanaians today. These are music, dance, and drama.

Music

Ghanaian contemporary music has been influenced by foreign music styles and concepts though there is not a total eradication of the indigenous music styles. Some contemporary Ghanaian musicians blend the indigenous and foreign music styles in composing their songs. The foreign music styles that have influenced Ghanaian music today include jazz, pop music, Blues, Rock and Roll, Reggae, Ragga, R&B, Indian and Arabic songs. Contemporary Ghanaian music includes highlife which has more of the indigenous music elements, the hip-life which fuses slow lyric choruses with Ragga or rap music. Currently, there is the hip-pop music that is an exact rendition of the Western style of music though the lyrics and language are mostly Ghanaian in nature. There is also the church or choral music, brass band music, regimental or military music as well as the classical music.

Several foreign musical instruments are used hand in hand with the indigenous musical instruments. These include guitars, pianos, trumpets like the saxophone, foreign drums, cymbals etc. Unlike indigenous Ghanaian music, contemporary Ghanaian music is recorded in high technological recording studios where other artificial elements are added to the originally composed music to bring it to foreign standards. They are then copied on Compact Disks, DVD’S, VCD’S, EVD’S etc.
Contemporary Ghanaian music is played at theatres, church services, parties, concerts, dance halls, and parks. They are played during religious services to enhance praises and worship. They are also played during social functions like marriage feasts, sporting activities and the like to entertain those in attendance. During workshops, talks, and seminars, music is played to relieve stress and boredom during intermissions of the program. They are played to boost the morale of competitors in various forms of competitions. Others are played to educate us on morality, patriotism and nationalism. There are various music contest and competitions held in Ghana to promote music. These include TV3 Mentor, X-Factor, etc.

Popular contemporary Ghanaian music stars include Dr. Ephraim Amu who composed various Coral songs for the Ghanaian community. Others include Agya Koo Nimo, Cindy Thompson, Yaw Sarpong, Daddy Lumba, Kojo Antwi, Nana Acheampong, Obrafo, Sarkodie etc.

Dance

Contemporary Ghanaian dance, like music, has been influenced by foreign dance styles. Some of these foreign dance styles include cracking, electric boogie etc. Dance is performed to entertain people and to express their sentiments towards one another. Contemporary Ghanaian dance forms include quickstep, mambo, waltz, foxtrot, salsa, boogie, cha-cha-cha, robot movement, twist, break and now, Azonto. These dance styles are performed at various functions such as church, weddings, funerals, parties, durbars, and festivals etc. Several dance competitions are held today in Ghana to promote dancing such as the Malta Guinness Street Dance contest. Dancing is now a very lucrative enterprise in contemporary Ghana.

Drama

Contemporary Ghanaian drama is performed on a stage in a theatre. Unlike the indigenous Ghanaian drama where the audience sometimes interact with the audience while the performance is in season, contemporary Ghanaian drama is performed uninterrupted by the actors and actresses who play the various roles in the story depicted in the performance. The audience, however, participates by clapping, booing and shouting in a bid to express their sentiments towards the performance. Contemporary Ghanaian drama includes plays, comedies, operas, and cantatas.

Popular contemporary Ghanaian drama groups include the Abibigroma drama group, the National Dance Ensemble, Osofo Dadzie drama group, Adabraka drama Troupe and the Tsadidi drama group. Popular drama themes in contemporary Ghana include the ‘The Black African Slave Trade, by the National Dance Ensemble, ‘Ananse and the gun man’ by Joe deGraft, ‘The dilemma of a ghost’ by Ama Ataa Aidoo and the celebrated ‘Marriage of Anansewaa’ by Efua Sunderland.

Contemporary Ghanaian drama is staged in churches and mosques to illustrate some Christian themes to educate members about the Christian and Muslim doctrines and the relevance of leading a good moral life in line with the principles and regulations of God. During social gatherings, parties, and festivals, drama is performed to entertain those in attendance. Others are staged to educate the general public on social issues such as healthy living, personal hygiene, laws and norms of the land, patriotism and the like.

Center Stage in the Performing Arts

The downsides to acting careers are obvious: There’s not much work, and you fight tooth and nail to get the work that is available. So rather than waiting in the wings for your big break, make the first move and create your own opportunities. Those with formal training from acting schools become experts in the field and make key connections with professionals who can open the doors to work and success.

Backstage

Students pursuing acting degrees often take courses in radio and television broadcasting, communications, film, theater, drama, or dramatic literature. Many continue past the bachelor’s level and earn a master of fine arts degree, which may include courses in stage speech and movement, directing, playwriting, and design, as well as intensive acting workshops. Check with the National Association of Schools of Theatre to make sure your theater arts program is accredited.

But acting degrees are just the beginning — continuing education is a must as well. Actors need to research roles and sometimes even learn a foreign language or train with a dialect coach for a particular role. Actors may also need to learn other performance skills, such as singing, dancing, skating, juggling, miming, horseback riding, fencing, and stage combat.

Onstage

After studying at acting schools, it’s time to find work. You’re certainly familiar with the acting careers in the spotlight (film, network television, and theater in New York City and Los Angeles), but there’s more to the field than what’s in the public eye. Many actors find fulfillment and make a living in local or regional television studios, theaters, film production companies, or even on the radio. You can also find talented actors in cabarets, nightclubs, theme parks, and commercials. And don’t forget about voiceover and narration work for advertisements, cartoons, books on tape, and video games. Little-known fact: Lara Jill Miller of the 1980s TV show “Gimme a Break!” now makes her living as the voice of Puppy Clifford on PBS Kids’ “Clifford’s Puppy Days.”

Center Stage

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, expanding cable and satellite television operations, increasing production and distribution of major studio and independent films, and continued growth and development of interactive media, such as direct-for-Web movies and videos, should increase demand for those in the performing arts. In addition, Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters, touring productions, repertory theaters, theme parks, and resorts are expected to offer plenty of jobs.

Train your eyes to see outside the spotlight, and you’ll find many opportunities to pursue within the performing arts. But then again, you never know — you may find yourself center stage after all.