Everybody goes through life to the beat of their own drum. Some take the term literally. Bobby Bovenzi is one such guy. As part of Nankama, Bovenzi has the ability to take a person of any age and make them find rhythm.
Saturday morning began with dancing and drumming and ended with dancing and drumming. In between, there was a lot of music, smiling, enjoyment and learning. Nankama is based out of Penticton. Bobby Bovenzi spent 14 years studying music and 10 years doing what he is doing now. “I took the elementary education program at university,” said Bovenzi. “I studied African American culture and stated to integrate different types of music into my studies.”
Nankama is set up in the Stratford Center for the Arts in a heritage building that strives to let arts and culture flourish in all its forms. “It is wonderful to have a home like this now,” Bovenzi said. “I have been set up in numerous places and this one is really great. “My education has taught me what music and the arts can do for kids and it is really terrific to watch.”
Bovenzi has been teaching in schools for many years. This was not his first visit to Princeton and he remembers his last visit well. “I came at the request of Mrs. Low,” Bovenzi stated. “I taught African drum to her class and it was a great day. Mrs. Low is a special teacher who understands the value of children’s creativity.”
“The first 12 years of a child’s life should be nothing but arts.” Bovenzi thinks this age old quote is not too far away from reality. “I taught at a inner city school where attendance was very poor,” he said. “Just by bringing drum classes into the school and giving the kids something to look forward to besides education the school changed. Just a thing as simple as a drum increased attendance by 30 per cent and even the parents changed. They became more involved in their kid’s education because the kid’s were more engaged. There was a new comraderie in the school and it was really terrific to watch as it unfolded.”
Bovenzi and his partner in crime Thomas Tumbach created Nankama World Beat Imports. Lessons and Events. They offer classes in West African and Middle Eastern drum, dance and orchestra. Nankama West Africa drum and dance workshops hit Princeton last Saturday and brought with them a whole lot of fun. The Workshops were all about beat and cooperation.
Many locals attended the workshops and even some out-of-towners made the trip. One of the highlights of the children’s drumming, singing and movement class was the frog pond at the end. The children all had instruments that produced different frog and pond sounds like one might hear in a rain forest including rain and thunder. With the lights low and the sounds all merging together at the same time, the imagination was left to wander to another place.
The same went for the evening show. From 7:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. a thrilled audience watched and participated in a journey to another land. From The Bahiti Belly Dance troupe to the Barefoot Profits, the performances were high energy all the way. Everyone who wanted to had the opportunity to bang on a drum. The show was interactive and full of activity. Ridgewood Theatre was the place to be Saturday night.
Recreational Coordinator Nadine McEwen who participated in the morning Afro-American Step Dance class said, “The class was really fun and really made me think. It was very different than what I am used to…great fun.”