Portsmouth students surrender to the rhythms

Tara Murphy from Cape Cod African Dance & Drum leads Hathaway School students in dance Friday morning. Tara Murphy from Cape Cod African Dance & Drum leads Hathaway School students in dance Friday morning.

Hanna Steen shakes a leg with Tara Murphy from Cape Cod African Dance & Drum during Friday's Arts for Life program at Hathaway School.

Hanna Steen shakes a leg with Tara Murphy from Cape Cod African Dance & Drum during Friday’s Arts for Life program at Hathaway School.

PORTSMOUTH — It was a morning of drums and dance at Hathaway School Friday.

As part of the “Arts for Life” celebration, the school welcomed Cape Cod African Dance & Drum, which regaled students with its rhythms, while inviting them to dance and help keep the beat, too.

The troupe, featuring master West African drummers, offer educational programs for school assemblies and family events. Its shows feature traditional dances and rhythms of Guinea, Mali and Senegal, West Africa, in traditional costume.

“We’re here all day long and we’re doing four dance workshops and four drumming workshops,” said Tara Murphy, who gathered kids in a circle at one point for a prolonged dance workout set to the pulsating rhythms.

The colorfully dressed Issa Coulibaly taught the kids a traditional call-and-response song from Mali about being happy.

Joel Rivera takes a stab at the drums.

Joel Rivera takes a stab at the drums.

Mr. Coulibaly began studying the djembe and dun dun when he was 11 in his home city of Bamako, Mali. He later toured Africa and Europe extensively before emigrating to America. He continues to travel from Maine to Puerto Rico facilitating retreats and performing as the lead drummer and musical director for a variety of African dance and drum troupes.

Students also hopped on stage to try their hand at drumming themselves, learning simple rhythms that were played as an ensemble.

The theme for the day was “Multiculturalism: Around the World with Art” and the program was funded by the Hathaway Parents Association. Besides the Cape Cod group, students heard stories from the “Take Two Tandem Tellers” Cindy Killavey and Anne Marie Forer, who use audience participation as a key element in their performances.

In addition, artist Eric Fulford presented “Heroes Through History,” a workshop that looks at the way that great superheroes and mythological monsters were illustrated in several different cultures. Mr. Fulford, a history teacher and illustrator, showed students how to create their own superhero using basic drawing techniques.

Melville School celebrates its “Arts for Life Day” on Thursday, April 25, while the middle school does the same on Friday, April 26.

Issa Coulibaly (left) and Chris Keniley of Cape Cod African Dance & Drum keep the pounding rhythms going at Hathaway School.

Issa Coulibaly (left) and Chris Keniley of Cape Cod African Dance & Drum keep the pounding rhythms going at Hathaway School.

Tara Murphy from Cape Cod African Dance & Drum encourages children at Hathaway School to dance.

Tara Murphy from Cape Cod African Dance & Drum encourages children at Hathaway School to dance.

Owen Hamilton (right) and Grant Harkin try their hand at the drums.

Owen Hamilton (right) and Grant Harkin try their hand at the drums.

Tara Murphy from Cape Cod African Dance & Drum leads Hathaway School students in dance Friday morning.

Tara Murphy from Cape Cod African Dance & Drum leads Hathaway School students in dance Friday morning.

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