Located at the center of East Africa, the Republic of Uganda is slightly smaller in size than the state of Oregon. Serving as ambassadors of hope for the more than two million children of Uganda who have been orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS and civil war, Spirit of Uganda was originally created to teach orphaned children the songs, dances and stories that were in danger of being lost forever. This high-powered and inspiring program celebrates the rich history and multiple heritages, beliefs and legends of the more than 52 different ethnic groups that define the 28 million people that call Uganda home.
Under the artistic direction of Peter Kasule, who previously led the 2004 and 2006 tours of Children of Uganda, this spirited troupe of performers ages eight to 18 has performed on the David Letterman Show, at the Grammy’s® salute to U-2’s Bono, for the World Bank, MTV, Nickolodeon and at the White House.
Playing a variety of instruments including drums, harps, flutes and xylophones, Spirit of Uganda perform dances from Uganda, Rwanda, Congo, Tanzania and Kenya, and sing in a variety of languages including Luganda, Swahili and English. Depending on the originating culture, these expressions can encompass court, sacred and folk traditions.
Repertory works may be named after a featured instrument, a song's lyric, a particular rhythm or phrase, or place or origin. Some pieces are drawn from specific peoples such as the Acholi, who live in northern Uganda and southern Sudan, or the Boganda whose king was a primary patron of culture in the centuries-old kingdom of Buganda. Other pieces are suites that may link rhythms and phrases from multiple regions, playing with differences and similarities to combine sounds and movements in new ways.
Costumes incorporate traditional and modern Ugandan textiles including traditional headdresses, bead necklaces, and gowns. Some elements are integral to the performance of a particular dance. For example, endege are ankle bells worn by dancers to emphasize their foot movements.
The 2008 U.S. tour with 20 stops across the country began in California in January and ends in Dallas in April. On tour the children are supported by a team of Ugandans who serve as teachers, mentors and spokespersons.
Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Web Site
Detailed schedule information: