"Africa is a big continent," said Yacub Addy in his nearly impenetrable Ghanaian accent. "We don't know all of it, just our little part." Addy's company of African dancers, singers and drummers, Odadaa!, specializes in traditional music and dance of the Ga people, a tribe in Ghana from which Addy and the rest of the 11-member troupe hail, rather than presenting a mixture of authentic and "adapted" works spanning several cultures. Yesterday afternoon Odadaa! gave a free concert at Baird Auditorium, an informal, friendly program alternating purely musical selections with ritual and social dances both ancient and modern.
There's nothing wild about Odadaa!'s dancing, which, though certainly spirited and exciting enough, is quite sophisticated and formal. Steps are small and the focus is on sinuous, sensuous arms and hands, or seductive hips. Dancers start and finish a dance with the same level of energy; when a dancer has danced enough, he or she simply stops.
The company's two leading women often initiate the dancing, cajoling the men to join them in movements both delicate and provocative. The dancing between couples has an egalitarian, conversational tone, the men moving with quiet virtuosity rather than exhibiting muscular prowess. There were many changes of costume, many middance, which seemed to mean much to the dancers, but remained mysterious to the viewer.