Ethiopian Music and Dance Masters Visit Greater Hartford
Contact: Lynne Williamson 860-278-2044 x 251; Lynne.Williamson@icrweb.org
Poster of Tour Dates - Poster of Oct. 5 performance
Direct from Addis Ababa, Fendika stops in the Greater Hartford area during their first solo US/East Coast tour. Events open to the public include a Friday Oct. 5 7:00 performance at Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford http://www.charteroakcenter.org/. On Thursday October 17 Fendika will give dance and percussion workshops at the Artists Collective from 5:30 to 8:30 PM http://artistscollective.org/events.htm These events are organized by the Institute for Community Research in partnership with Charter Oak Cultural Center and the Artists Collective, with funding from the Greater Hartford Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Fendika, a troupe of the most accomplished azmari musicians and dancers from across Ethiopia, mesmerizes audiences with resonant vocal chants, vibrant stringed instruments, spirited drum rhythms, and spectacular dancing. Drawing deeply from the well of Ethiopia’s diverse musical traditions, Fendika’s creative performance style also adds innovative movements and sounds that revitalize the ancient artistic forms.
Fendika features six world class performers – the eminent krar (six-stringed lyre) player Seleshe Damessae (Gash Abera Molla), singer Nardos Tesfaw, kebero drummer Misale Legesse, Endris Hassen on masenqo (single-stringed bowed fiddle), and renowned dancers Melaku Belay and Zenash Tsegaye.
Fendika performances and workshops thrill audiences:
"The rhythmic virtuosity of Melaku was often astounding. He can turn either the upper or lower body into an electrifying vehicle of rapid pulsation...Simply to see him sway his body to the music was a marvel: the angle of his out-held elbows, the pliancy of his spine, the rhythmic point of those shoulders all made their sensuous contributions. A happily superlative artist." Alastair Macaulay, New York Times, 8/12/2011
“We also went to Melaku’s club Fendika in Addis Ababa, and his dancers made our eyes pop out of our heads with their shoulder popping, neck snapping audacious moves. The next day we were treated to a dance workshop with Melaku, where we discovered just how amazing he was as we struggled to get our limbs to move in unfamiliar ways, although we came out feeling miraculously lighter and energized.” Rachel Unthank, BBC Radio 2 blog, 2/26/2010
Founded in 2009 by Melaku Belay, Ethiopia’s leading dancer and a highly respected cultural ambassador, the ensemble is based at Melaku’s famous music club Fendika Azmari Bet in the Kazanchis neighborhood of Addis Ababa. In Ethiopian culture, an azmari bet is a traditional house of music where people come to be entertained, informed, and sometimes playfully insulted by the azmaris who serve as current events commentators while they dance, sing, and play for tips. Azmari music repertoires include songs about love, historical events, current affairs, and improvised wordplay. Dances often illustrate traditional folktales, or mirror the movements of animals. Fendika also performs a kaleidoscope of music and dance traditions from the more than 80 tribal groups living in Ethiopia.
Melaku and Fendika also extend their base of tradition to new areas of musical collaboration, developing performance partnerships with Ethiopian jazz bands Addis Acoustic Project and the US-based Debo Band, as well as international groups such as Le Baroque Nomade, Ukandanz, Akalé Wubé, and especially European punk band The Ex. Fendika has appeared recently in Mali and France, and toured with Debo Band in 2011 with stops at the Lowell Folk Festival as well as Lincoln Center where they received great acclaim from the New York Times. Members of Fendika have toured Holland, Norway, Denmark, and Spain in summer 2012, also appearing at the 35th International Sacred Music Festival at L’Abbaye de Sylvanés, France.
Upcoming Fendika dates include:
Joe’s Pub, NYC, Oct. 2 http://www.joespub.com/component/option,com_shows/task,view/Itemid,40/id,6320
Central Connecticut State University, Torp Auditorium (Oct. 4), http://web.ccsu.edu/cas/
Charter Oak Cultural Center, Hartford CT (Oct. 5), http://www.charteroakcenter.org/
Lalibela Restaurant, New Haven (Oct. 6), 203-209-4011
Hibernian Hall/Dudley Square in Roxbury, Boston (Oct. 8) http://madison-park.org/
With Debo Band, Hibernian Hall in Roxbury, Boston (Oct. 9) http://madison-park.org/;
Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, Washington DC (Oct. 11) http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/millennium/
Bryant University in Smithfield RI (Oct. 16), http://www.bryant.edu/calendars-and-events/campus-events.htm
Artists Collective in Hartford (Oct. 17/18), http://artistscollective.org/events.htm
From October 12 to 14, Fendika will be on stage throughout the weekend at the Richmond Folk Festival in Richmond VA, a free festival showcasing traditional and country music artists from all over the world as well as local crafts and international cuisines http://www.richmondfolkfestival.org/
For more information about Melaku Belay and Fendika, including photos and video, visit www.melakubelay.com and http://www.reverbnation.com/melakubelay
For information about the tour, contact Lynne Williamson at Lynne.Williamson@icrweb.org