Out of Africa

WADOMA honors the rhythms and movements of Western Africa

In Western Africa, dancing and drumming form the rhythms of daily life. That’s the rich tradition Paddy and Otehlia Cassidy encountered there—and now share with Madison through West African Dance of Madison, or WADOMA.

The husband-and-wife co-directors specialize in the drumming and dances of Guinea and Mali, offering them to audiences through performances and educational outreach programs.

Paddy and Otehlia began drumming and dancing, respectively, in their childhoods and both were drawn to the art forms’ African roots. They’ve worked with a diverse group of performers since 2003 and often travel to Africa to study the traditions in their original contexts.

The Cassidys enjoy not only presenting to new audiences the movements and rhythms of West Africa, but also combining them with other forms of music and dance, from Latin to hip hop. This month, they’re joining forces with Kanopy Dance in a concert of new works.

Whether performing with others or alone, WADOMA is thrilling to watch. “Undeniably, it’s the most energetic performance you’ll see,” Cassidy says.

“It’s not something you’ve seen or heard,” Kiser adds. “But it’s not so far away.”

WADOMA and Kanopy Dance present Dance Here, Dance Now March 20–22 at Overture Center ($24 adults, $22 children and students). kanopydance.org, wadoma.com

Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine. Read her A&E blog Liberal Arts.

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