5-8 member group (3-4 drummers, 2-4 dancers)
Stage performance (venue)
A standard Kakatsitsi stage performance can last between 15 and 120 minutes.The standard venue show is a narrated performance, in which the meaning of the songs and the names of the various instruments are explained to the audience. The standard running time is 2*50 mins with an interval of 20 mins or so. Kakatsitsi use a wide variety of drums and percussion from their own Ga culture and those of the other tribes in Ghana and West Africa. Their style is tailored to suit a western ear and dance floor, with the funky solo drum riffs of the lead drummers, plus their high quality vocals led by lead singer Adotey Johnson distinguishing them from other drumming groups for whom the dance is the lead artform. Unlike this style of ‘drumming and dancing’, which has frenetic, complex rhythms most westerners will struggle to dance to, Kakatsitsi’s music is arranged specially to be more danceable with a trencher funkier feel.
An important part of the show is to encourage some element of audience participation, as traditional African drumming and dance are inherently participatory in nature. For some songs, the audience are shown a simple call and response pattern they can use to join in and the finalé of the show involves the entire audience joining in with some follow-the-leader dance, led by the Kakatsitsi dancers.
On some tours, Kakatsitsi have also been able to present a dance performance during some parts of the performance. This is particularly suitable for theatres and arts centres where the audience is mostly seated.
A Kakatsitsi dance performance at the Sphinx Festival, Belgium in 2008
Stage performance (festival)
Kakatsitsi work best in settings where the audience can dance. At festivals, they can either play a dance-performance set or alternatively a funkier, groovier set guaranteed to get people dancing, particularly if programmed later in the evening. Often the dancers in the group will lead the audience in some participatory ‘follow the leader’ dancing such that the entire audience will dance in unison.
Mid-way between a performance and workshop is a more participatory ceremony or jam, in which the distinction between ‘audience’ and ‘performers’ is broken down with members of the public, particularly those who have participated in earlier drumming, dancing and singing workshops, joining in. This works particularly well when the !Gubi Family are on tour, demonstrating their tradition of healing trance dance, traditionally performed around the fire in Namibia. For more information about the fire-side dance traditions of the Kalahari Bushmen, please click here.
A fireside drumming and dance session @ The Superspirit Camp in 2015
Kakatsitsi also perform well in informal settings, on the grass / street and in amongst the people, requiring no amplification. This is traditional music and dance performed in its original, authentic context.
Kakatsitsi playing on the grass at the Belladrum Festival.
The drummers can also lead a procession in which the drummers carry the Kolomashi processional drums, used to lead the community or audience on the way to a festival or ceremony. This can either be done by the group on their own or as part of a larger procession involving others at a festival.
Kakatsitsi with Kolomashie @ African Drum Village
Traditional Fusion Performances
Over their 14 previous UK tours, Kakatsitsi have performed in fusion with partner groups, such as the Red Centre Dreaming Aboriginal performance group, the !Gubi Family from Namibia and Mbilou, a Bwiti musician, dancer and spiritual healer from Gabon.
Kakatitsi & The !Gubi Family @ The Synergy Centre in 2008
The !Gubi Family & Kakatsitsi on the main stage @ WOMAD 2017
Kakatsitsi & Mbilou on tour in 2019
Mindful of the somewhat niche appeal of traditional world music and dance, Indigenous People are keen to develop electro-fusion performances which fuse traditional rhythms, chants and acoustic instruments with electronic beats and basslines from the digital realm. The most prominent example of such a set was the appearance by the Kakatsitsi Drummers on the West Holts Stage @ Glastonbury Festival in 2013, in fusion with ambient electronic producers The Orb.
Kakatsitsi & The Orb, West Holts Stage @ Glastonbury 2013
For more information on Indigenous People electro-fusion projects, please see here.
Drumming workshops can be provided for a wide variety of different ages and abilities. All inclusive family friendly workshops can be delivered, but ideally younger children should have their own workshop tailored to their needs. Workshops can last between 15 and 90 minutes, depending on age and ability. Drums can be provided.
Dance workshops can either be all inclusive and family friendly or can be broken down into different age ranges and abilities and can last between 20 and 90 minutes.
Dance workshop at Superspirit Camp
Finally, Kakatsitsi can also deliver singing workshops, lasting 15-60 minutes for children, adults or families of all ages.