African Music and Dance

Music and dance from West Africa and beyond.

Director: Dr. J. S. Kofi Gbolonyo

The UBC African Music and Dance Ensemble (UBC AMDE) was founded in September 2009 by Ghanaian ethnomusicology professor Dr. J. S. Kofi Gbolonyo. The ensemble, also a course (MUSC 165D/565D), focuses on music and dances from Africa and specializes in repertoire from the West Africa region.

This course/ensemble introduces the drumming techniques, dances, and other artistic expressions of Africa. Directed by Dr. J. S. Kofi Gbolonyo, the ensemble presents a total African artistic expression—music, dance, drama, and visual arts. Through the drum, voice, dance, and other visual art forms and paraphernalia, this ensemble brings a unique and total African artistic experience to the stage.

  • Learn and perform African music and dance as they occur in traditional settings.
  • Create new forms of African and African-derived presentations in new theatrical contexts.
  • Create opportunities for all interested people to experience the music and dance of Africa (both from home and the Diaspora).
  • Provide a broader and better understanding of Africa, Africans and people of African descent and in the African Diaspora.
  • Gain a broader and deeper knowledge and the scope of African culture from the philosophical, historical, spiritual, political, aesthetic, and artistic dimensions.
  • Recognize attitudinal values and belief systems in African socio-cultural practices and develop an appreciation for and intellectual engagement with African art forms.
  • Identify and analyze peculiar stylistic tokens that mark the African artistic systems.
  • Understand how African Indigenous philosophies and identities are linked within artistic and socio-cultural formations, particularly along the axis of gender, class, and ethnicity.
  • Contribute to the broader Canadian multicultural and ethnic integration agenda.

Types of performance

In addition to traditional pieces, the ensemble performs neo-traditional, contemporary African art compositions and African popular music. African art compositions include choral works and pieces for solo voice, piano, flute, xylophone, and other African traditional and Western instruments.

WATCH: Prof. Kofi Gbolonyo introduces the African Music and Dance ensemble


The ensemble is open to all UBC students (either as a credit or a non-credit course) and to all other persons within and outside the University of British Columbia interested in African performing arts.

Individuals may enroll in the ensemble for a year (two terms) or on a long-term basis for as long as they wish. Take a look at the courses below to join.


Our activities include:

  • Public end-of-year/term concerts and other performances on or off-campus.
  • Lecture demonstrations.
  • Workshops.
  • Other educational and entertainment activities align with the University’s policies.

Concerts performances at the end of every year or semester give members opportunities to present what they have learned to the public, alongside professional African music and dance performers.

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