Alabama Dance Council

Solomon Sholanke, Osumare African Drum & Dance Ensemble


Dance is the hidden language of the soul - Martha Graham

Ballet Students

Solomon Adeyinka Sholanke is the founder and creative director of the Osumare African Drum & Dance Ensemble. He was born and reared in the city of Abeokuta in Ogun State, Nigeria. He learned to dance and play drums at the age of 7 as a rite of passage within the Yoruba culture. Solomon moved to the United States in the 1970s to attend college; he received a Bachelor’s degree in Management and a Master’s degree in Business Administration. In 1988, he founded the Osumare African Drum & Dance Ensemble, and has since then become widely known for his stimulating and educational seminars, classes, and lectures on drumming, dance, drum-making, songs of the Yoruba, and culture of his native Nigeria.
Osumare (oh-shoo-mar-eh) means "rainbow" in Mr. Sholanke’s native Yoruba language. The name is fitting for the ensemble, as it comprises members and cultures from all over Nigeria, the United States, and other countries across the globe. All of the members -whether they are singing, drumming, or dancing - are masters of their arts due to intensive and rigorous training and performance experience. During any of the group’s performances and lectures, audience members will get a good taste of traditional music and dance from the Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa and other ethnic groups of Nigeria, as well as from other countries on the African continent and in the African diaspora.
African Dance: Dance to the Beat of Bata Description: Dance to the Beat of Bata, Taught by Osumare African Drum & Dance Ensemble, this dance presents the traditional bata rhythms and dances from Nigeria, West Africa. Bata is the dance of the Yoruba people of Nigeria, and it’s widely played in the Caribbean, Cuba, Brazil, Trinidad, Tobago, and all over the world. Many of the rhythms and dances have been passed down through the generations and have ended up in many contemporary music and dance forms. It was originally a ritualistic dance performed by Oba Shango, the fourth king of the Oyo Empire. The movements are rigorous and the gestures are as a dancer and a drummer communicate together: as the drummer calls out a beat, the dancer responds in turn. It is played by a special master drummer called ayan and with a special drum called bata.