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African music and dance Thursday at Holmes

The Historic Holmes Theatre in Detroit Lakes will officially launch its 2009-10 season this Thursday, Oct. 1, by presenting the innovative and authentic music and dance of West African group, The Kusun Ensemble.

Based in Ghana, West Africa, the Kusun Ensemble was founded in 1997 by Nii Tettey Tetteh, as a means of keeping his culture's musical traditions alive -- by bringing them to the world.

In Africa, music permeates just about every aspect of human culture.

"Traditional music and dance is Africans' nature -- it's something we need," explains Tetteh.

But these traditions have slowly been washing away, Tetteh feels, because of the influence of Western culture -- and Christianity, which sometimes puts so-called "pagan rituals" in a negative view.

"For some reason, people find our festivals and cultures evil," Tetteh says.

But this perception is far from the truth. African music and rhythms have actually been shown to have uplifting, even healing qualities.

The Kusun Ensemble celebrates traditional African music and dance -- even using some traditional Ghanaian instruments in its performances, Tetteh says.

But it also fuses those traditional rhythms with jazz, and even includes electric bass and lead guitar.

Fans of world music and dance may have heard something similar, "but it's not really like what they've seen before," Tetteh adds.

Kusun uses a unique collection of instruments, many of which have not traditionally been combined together on stage before.

"It's bringing different background and cultures together, so they can sound like one family," Tetteh says.

Detroit Lakes area residents will have two opportunities to see The Kusun Ensemble on Thursday.

The first performance will be a 1 p.m. show, about 50 minutes in length, for area schoolchildren.

The second performance will be a full-length stage show for the general public, starting at 7:30 p.m.

A group of West African students who are currently attending Minnesota State University Moorhead will be selling some authentic African foods at the concession stand during the performance.

Tickets for the evening show are $20 for adults, $10 for students, and can be purchased by phone at 218-844-SHOW (7469), online at, or at the Holmes Theatre Box Office, 806 Summit Ave., DL.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454