The audience surged onto the floor at the conclusion of the Wo'se performance Saturday night and Dance Place became a disco as the public and members of the cast mingled to the beat of drums. It should have happened earlier in the program, because what this company for African ritual has to offer is a fling for the participants.
The troupe's dancers, six women and two men, work themselves into a frenzy that they seem to relish. As a group, though, they lack the fundamental cleanliness of motion and nuanced dynamics that distinguish the fine African dancing one can see so often in this city. The four Wo'se drummers are more disciplined.
Two items, dances of the Frafras in upper Ghana, were arranged rather similarly by Amoah Azangeo. Shaking is the dominant movement theme of the "Baala," and a sharp contraction in the form of a forward bow is prominent in the "Akilikayangei." In both pieces, Azangeo functioned as a sort of circus barker, addressing the audience, urging on his performers and delivering a few stunts and bawdy asides of his own.
Azangeo certainly was the one person on stage worth watching. His hands were busy with a calabash, a gourd that looks like a volleyball and emits granular as well as explosive sounds. He was constantly on the go, yet dodging about with an economy of movement that testified to great control. His side-to-side stamping was done so rapidly that his whole body vibrated like a rubber band.
Other dances on the program were arranged by Aidoo Mamdi after Assane Konte or Stanley Traver. Contemplative interludes on the kora, a string instrument, were provided by Djimo Kouyate.