HALLANDALE BEACH — As far back as he can remember, dance and drumming have been part of the life of Emmanuel Aderele.
The 24-year-old Nigerian grew up with a mother who could sing and dance and a father who played the drums. The driving rhythms of his childhood have defined his life.
“They would just push you into a circle and you had to be ready to engage,” said Aderele, who is on a mission to promote Yoruba culture.
He shares this passion with anyone willing to learn through his Yoruba Bata Dance and Drumming workshops.
“My intent, my focus, is to connect people with their roots,” he said. “I want to empower and give people a sense of belonging so they feel happy about their culture. I’m a cultural custodian.”
Aderele grew up with four elder sisters and a younger brother in the Yoruba culture of the southwest region of Nigeria. The Yoruba Bata drums, or mother drums, are sacred, as are the drumming and the dancing.
“This is not just a faith, it’s a way of life,” said Margate resident Kamili Nilata, a Yoruba practitioner who assisted Aderele at a workshop held recently in the Serenity Room in Hallandale Beach, partly to mark Nigeria’s 52nd anniversary independence.
Surrounded by a small group of mostly white participants, Aderele taught about the different drums involved and the beats and rhythms that drove the dance.
“I reach out to everybody. Some people are so scared to talk about different culture. But, when you’re open, that’s important. I love working with any a soul that is open and receptive,” said Aderele.
Aventura resident Sara Molano attended the workshop as a way to widen her exposure to different styles.
“I dance in drum circles and I like all dance,” said Molano. “Yoruba dance is beautiful. It’s the best and it is so spiritual.”
Aderele’s journey to the United States began after he finished college. He attended the National Teachers’ Institute in Kaduna, Nigeria, and became a certified instructor in dance and sacred arts. In 2009, he auditioned for and won a chance to participate in a cultural exchange program sponsored by Miami-based Community Builders Holistic Development Corporation (HDC).
The HDC is part of a redevelopment project created through Florida legislation that established the exchange program, along with arts projects in Miami-Dade County.
Through this project, Aderele established the OsunDara Yoruba Dance Theater and presented his first show during a Kwanzaa celebration in Miami’s Liberty City. In 2010, he travelled to Washington, D.C., to performed in the National Heritage Fellowship Awards ceremony. In 2011, he took his drumming to the Miami Design District during Black History Month.
He is also an artist and speaker often featured at university symposiums.
Aderele is holding a series of workshops on Yoruba drumming and dance
Sundays at the Serenity Room, 221 W. Hallandale Beach Blvd.
The “Sacred Yoruba Bata Dance and Drumming Workshop Series” is free for children and $10 for adults. For more information, call 786-344-1153.