Dance Like A River Entire Folkstreams

Making The Film

Dance Like A River

Film by Barry Dornfeld, Tom Rankin
Produced by Barry Dornfeld, Tom Rankin
45 minutes, Color
Original format: Film: 16mm, 1986
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Home streaming only. For other permissions apply to Barry Dornfeld, Tom Rankin or to the distributor.

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Dance Like a River is a documentary portrait of Odadaa!, a remarkable drumming and dance troupe from Ghana West Africa, in the early years of their residence in the United States. Odadaa! was formed by master drummer, cultural interpreter, and NEA Heritage Award winner Yacub Addy in the early 1980s when he brought over a number of renowned musicians and dancers from Ghana to perform the traditional music and dances of the Ga and other Ghanaian peoples. Odadaa! grew in size, impact and professionalism over the many years following this film though maintained its traditional character.

The film shows the group performing in concert, rehearsing their traditional music and dance, and relaxing in their home outside of Washington, DC. It also presents Yacub and the other members' thoughts and feelings about translating traditional Ghanaian drumming and dance for western audiences here in the United States, and about culture change and sustainability. Portions of several dances are performed, including Bamaya, Adiko, and Gome. Ultimately, the viewers realize that Yacub’s vision and direction, both artistic and philosophical, have shaped Odadaa! into a celebration of West African artistry and heritage that has had a lasting impact internationally.

Although sadly Yacub passed away in 2014, the group still continues, performing in a variety of settings and keeping his legacy alive. See their website at and Facebook profile at for more information.