Isaac Akrong is an exceptional performer of traditional dance and drumming. Hailing from the Ga people of the coastal belt of Ghana, he was immersed in the traditions of his culture at an early age. His love of traditional music and arts led him to the University of Ghana, School of Performing Arts where he completed an undergraduate degree. Isaac was invited to join the Ghana Dance Ensemble of the Institute of African Studies, Legon, where he continued with his learning and love of traditional music, performing a multitude of different cultural dances.
Isaac holds a master’s degree in dance and a PhD in ethnomusicology from York University. For many years he taught African music and dance at York University, Wesleyan University in Connecticut, and Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. He has taught all ages, everywhere from Ontario Early Years Centres, elementary and secondary schools, post-secondary, as well as with adults and seniors.
As a choreographer, master drummer, and artistic director, Isaac creates new works as well as maintains traditional music and dance through the African Dance Ensemble. The group has performed all across Ontario, in addition to England and the US. Isaac also founded Humanity in Harmony festival, which ran for three years, bringing together multi-disciplinary artists, academics, and community members in a celebration of our common humanity through the arts.
Isaac has a strong commitment to sharing his knowledge of traditional dance and drumming with the world. As a researcher, he is determined to see Ghanaian music and dance documented for future generations.
“My goal is to propagate the message of African culture and explain everything possible about it. I am building on the knowledge that exists so that people will understand African music and dance more.”
He believes that, as humans, “We sing and dance through our lives on earth and beyond.”
In 2023, with a Board of Directors, Isaac incorporated African Arts Institute, a non-for-profit centre for education, research, and entertainment in African arts. Learn more at www.africanartsinstitute.com
Isaac Akrong founded the African Dance Ensemble (ADE) in 2001, in order to research and teach the roots of African traditional practice as an embodiment of social and ethnological phenomena. Group members practice dances from across the motherland of Africa.
ADE (pronounced “AA-day”) is a Ga-Dangbe word signifying “telling,” “as told,” or “as said.” The experience of interaction between performers and the world is what tells (“ade”) our story.
The purpose of ADE is the preservation of African music and dance, cultural understanding between peoples of different backgrounds, and sharing the “joy of Mama Africa” with the world.
ADE goals include educating the world on African performance arts, and the functions of African performance arts on human existence. ADE’s work helps people to understand the race of Africans wherever they may be, and how to decode and understand the nuances and sensibilities of Africans, as a varied and diverse people from a vast continent.
“Ghanaian Gome and Jamaican Kumina: West African Influences.” Making Caribbean Dance: Continuity and Creativity in Island Cultures. Ed. Susanna Sloat. Florida: University Press of Florida, 2010: 153.
“Ancient Rhythms of Ghana.” Collaboration for the film Skin Walk by Andrew Lockington, Glenn Gould Studio.
Composition track with Kweku Emmisah. In Shaballabah; Kanya. Gold Coast Cultural Troupe. CD. Scb-music GEMA SDD 10505.
Wulomo Traditional Chief Priest of the Ga Adangme Association of Toronto, 2012-present
Ontario Arts Council: Dance Initiatives Projects jury, 2021 & 2010; Multi-Arts Projects jury, 2008
Canada Council for the Arts: Dance Section jury, 2012
York University: Dance Auditions Jury, African Dance (World Dance), Dance Department, 2009-2015
Coalition for the Truth about Africa: Libations by Wulomo. Royal Ontario Museum Reconciliation event, 2016
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, Ghana: President of the Gold Award Holders’ Association, 1999-2000
Ph.D. Ethnomusicology, York University, Toronto. Dissertation: “Hip Life Music: Re-Defining Ghanaian Culture (1990-2012)”
M.A. Dance, York University, Toronto. Thesis: “Kpanlogo Dance Today: A Documentation of the Evolution of a Ga Traditional Dance Form of Ghana, West Africa”
Diploma in Theatre Arts (Dance), The School of Performing Arts, University of Ghana, Legon. Choreography project: Artinapa