Volta Drum Dance is a non-profit organization that brings Ghanaian Traditional Music to the people of Los Angeles and beyond. Through dedicated practice, we strive to deepen our cultural understanding of Ghana and other West African nations. For some of us, that means reaching back to our ancestors and connecting with our heritage. For others it means immersing ourselves in another culture, showing respect and appreciation for the lessons that transcend societal divides.
Ghanaian music combines the powers of drumming, dancing, and singing to connect communities and tell the stories of important cultural people and events to new generations. This distinct feeling of musical connectedness has no equal in American culture, and so we are committed to sharing it. Volta Drum Dance is proud to display our diverse membership. We come from different countries, races, and religions, but one thing we have in common is respect and love for this music and everything it represents. Every member of Volta was chosen for his or her skill and dedication to the music.
Volta is fortunate to be able to draw on the extensive cultural knowledge of Nani Agbeli, our Artistic Director. Nani was born and raised in Ghana to a family deeply immersed in the culture and traditions there.
Volta Drum and Dance provides a unique experience that you do not want to miss.
Nani AgbeliNani Agbeli was born into a family of dancers and drummers in Ghana and was trained by his father, Godwin Agbeli. Nani then studied at the National Arts Center in Accra and led the cultural troupe Sankofa Roots II. Nani has led ensembles at many universities, including Tufts, Harvard, Berklee, and Edna Manley in Jamaica. He has been Artistic Director and lead dancer of the Agbekor Drum and Dance Society in Boston. Nani currently lives in Los Angeles and is the Director of African Music and Dance
Robin HirshbergRobin started studying classical percussion at age eleven. She soon grew to love the marimba and focused her studies on modern marimba repertoire. She received a bachelor’s degree in Music Performance from Ball State University, studying under Dr. Erwin Mueller. She then earned an M.F.A. from California Institute of the Arts. It was there that she was introduced to many world music traditions and fell in love with Ghanaian Music and Dance.
Paola EscobarPaola Escobar is a Colombian performer and choreographer who creates transcultural work that combines her Latin-American background with her interest in the flamenco tradition, African culture, and contemporary art. Escobar has performed in Festivals in France, Spain, Portugal, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, United States, and Colombia. Paola has studied African Dance with Nani Agbeli since 2017.
Jed HoltmanFrom Berkeley, CA, Jed is a current student at CSU Northridge. He studies guitar and double bass in the jazz performance program. In addition to Volta, Jed has performed with CK Ladzekpo's African music ensemble, and Ric Alviso's West African music class at CSUN.
Isabel IveyIsabel is a California-Born, LA-based artist. Though her own artistic practice focuses largely on recycled large scale sculpture, she is multimedia artist, performer, and a dancer. As an active member in the arts community, Isabel has shown work at Fabrica de Arte, Centro Cultural Espanol, Plaza de la Raza, and Imagine Entertainment. For Isabel, Volta is a way to connect to her African roots and continue her practice of community engagement while creating culturally relevant art.
Marja Liisa KayDr. Marja Liisa Kay is an avid experimental vocalist who performs throughout the US and Europe. Outside of regular rehearsals and exploratory performances, her love for contemporary and folk arts finds her at eclectic openings, concerts, and happenings. Marja fell in love with Ghanaian music and dance during her early studies, and cannot imagine life without all of its JOY.
Chanelle NsangouChanelle enjoys many different forms of movement and sees dance as a non verbal way of expression and communication. She realized her love of African dance and culture at the age of 10. Over the years, her curiosity of traditional African dance and culture grew. When Chanelle met Nani Agbeli, she learned of the complexity of traditional Ghanian dance. This increased her desire to understand the cultural significance of every movement, every drum beat and every song.
Monique ThompsonGreetings! My name is Monique and I am a Pasadena resident. I have
been a student of the African culture for about 23 years of my life. I
started learning traditional West African drum, dance, and music with
a Nigerian group at the age of 8. Within the group I had the privilege
and opportunity to learn and share the values of the African culture.
My passion and goal as a Volta member is to uplift, inspire and
entertain others. Blessings!!