Saturday, October 27, 2012

Royal Drummers and Dancers of Burundi to perform Oct. 30 at Rozsa Center

HOUGHTON -- The Royal Drummers and Dancers of Burundi are coming to Michigan Tech's Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts at 7:30 p.m., next Tuesday, Oct. 30.

Royal Drummers and Dancers of Burundi. (Photo courtesy Michigan Technological University)

According to Susanna Brent, Rozsa Center Director, "Their live performances are the ultimate African drum experience."

One of the greatest percussion ensembles in the world, the Royal Drummers and Dancers of Burundi have performed in the same way for centuries, passing down traditions and techniques from father to son. Their performances were traditionally a part of particular ceremonies, such as births, funerals and the enthronement of Kings.

In Burundi, drums are sacred and represent, along with the king, the powers of fertility and regeneration. The origins of their performance being shrouded in ancient legend and mystery, the Royal Drummers and Dancers of Burundi channel the energy and creative spirit of a nation through these drums and the rituals surrounding them. The large drums -- "Ingoma" -- are made from hollowed tree trunks covered with skin. The "Amashako" drums provide a continuous beat, and "Ibishikiso" drums follow the rhythm of the central "Inkiranya" drum.

The Royal Drummers and Dancers of Burundi will perform at Michigan Tech's Rozsa Center at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30. They will offer a matinee for home-schooled K-12 children at 1 p.m. the same day. (Photo courtesy Michigan Technological University)

The thunderous sound of the drums with the graceful yet athletic dance that accompanies this masterful performance represents an important part of Burundi's musical heritage. Since the 1960s the Royal Drummers and Dancers of Burundi have toured outside of their country, becoming a popular attraction at concert halls and festivals around the world. Their massed drum sound, or the "Burundi beat" as it became known, also caught the ear of Western musicians and they appeared on Joni Mitchell's, The Hissing of Summer Lawns (1975). Their distinctive sound also influenced British rock bands of the early 1980s, such as Adam and the Ants, and Bow Wow Wow. It was seeing the drummers that inspired Thomas Brooman to organize the first WOMAD festival in 1982, an event that helped to spark the whole World Music boom.

Drum circles are welcome all day Monday, Oct. 29, and Tuesday, Oct. 30, in the Rozsa Lobby; and participants will get discount tickets. Come to the Rozsa Lobby with your drum either day, play for a little while (9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday or 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesday), and get a "Buy one get one Free" coupon for Royal Drummers and Dancers of Burundi tickets!

In addition, for area schools and families with home-schooled K-12 children, the Rozsa will have a special daytime "Class Acts" performance at 1 p.m. on Tuesday. Tickets are just $1 for this 50-minute children's matinee performance.

Finally, Michigan Tech’s African Students Organization will be hosting a free "Taste of Africa" reception in the Rozsa Lobby with traditional foods of Africa from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday evening before the show. Organization members will be in traditional dress.

To purchase tickets tickets for the Royal Drummers and Dancers of Burundi, call (906) 487-2073, go online at, or visit Ticketing Operations at Michigan Tech’s Student Development Complex (SDC), 600 Mac Innes Drive, in Houghton. SDC box office hours are 8 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. Saturday and 12 noon - 8 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $24.75/Adult, $22.75/Senior, $20.75/Students. Please note the Rozsa Box Office is closed during regular business hours and will only open two hours prior to show times.

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