Contemporary arts center OZ Arts Nashville will host world-class percussion and dance group the Yeli Ensemble, who will take the stage alongside multiple local artists for the premiere of a new theater, dance, and music collaboration in OZ’s expansive warehouse on April 14 and 15. The talented interdisciplinary group of percussionists and dancers originally from Guinea Conakry, is conducting a three-month artistic residency in Nashville through “AfricaNashville,” a local organization celebrating African artists and culture.
They will perform and collaborate with local artists and community members, from drum and dance classes and workshops to recording sessions and public performances, including the premiere of a new work at OZ Arts, created together with Nashville artists Windship Boyd, Christophe Konkobo, Karen Roberts and Saul Rodriguez. The performances will highlight traditional and contemporary African culture while telling their personal stories and connecting with the local Nashville community in Timbuktu Within, including a moving poem titled “Inside Timbuktu.”
Celebrating the West African jeli or griot, a “living archive” of African traditions, the Yeli Ensemble shares the profound influence and beauty of their culture and heritage through lively storytelling, dynamic choreography and pulsating percussion. Audiences will bear witness to the power of tradition as international artists and dynamic storytellers Sory Diabate, Ibrahima Dioubate, Mohamed “Dho” Cisse and Aïcha Camara unite with local dancers and performers to present a production ripe with multilayered harmonies and stunning movement.
“OZ Arts is delighted to further expose the Nashville community to West African traditions and stories by bringing the Yeli Ensemble to our stage,” said Mark Murphy, Executive and Artistic Director of OZ Arts. “We’re proud to help unite these international artists with local performers and invite audience members of all backgrounds to join in this community-driven celebration.”
Performances are Friday, April 14 at 8:00 pm and Saturday, April 15 at 8:00 pm in its expansive warehouse. Seating is general admission, and tickets are only $20, on sale now at the OZ website. These performances are made possible with generous support from donors and grants. To learn more about this and other upcoming performances, please visit www.ozartsnashville.org.
The international portion of the OZ spring season will come to a close in May with one of South Africa’s most celebrated artists, Gregory Maqoma, who is thrilling critics around the world with his powerful new dance-theater production carried by the transformative singing of an African choir. The new music / theater / dance production CION: Requiem of Ravel’s Boléro weaves a narrative of greed, power, and the pain of mourning with a moving live score interrogating Ravel’s music through South African vocal traditions.
The OZ Arts season fully wraps in mid-May with a final celebration of the ingenious creativity and artistic abilities of Nashville’s own creators. OZ’s Brave New Works Lab returns for a second year, inviting daring Nashville artists to transform OZ Arts into a laboratory for the creation and premiere of new works and works-in-progress, encouraging multimedia experimentation and collaboration across disciplines.