Professor Nani Agbeli is Director of West African Music, Dance and Arts (Ghana) at CalArts. Nani came to CalArts after directing Kiniwe, the African drum and dance ensemble of the Music Department (Tufts University), as well as programs at Harvard University, Brandeis University, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Nani provides training in dance, drumming, language, song, production, direction, choreography, and Anlo-Ewe drum languages.
He is regarded as one of the top traditional Ghanaian dancers and drummers of his generation, known for his athleticism, precision, creativity and energy. He grew up in a family of professional dancers and drummers in the capitol city of Accra and in Ghana’s Volta Region. His father, Godwin Kwasi Agbeli, founded the Dagbe Center in the village of Kopeyia, Ghana, family-run school for traditional music, dance and textile arts where his older brothers teach and perform. For many years Nani was the head teacher for the study tour groups who would come to study.
Nani moved to the United States in 2006, and quickly established himself as a charismatic performer, an inspiring instructor, and a demanding ensemble director. He has performed and run seminars at many institutions in North America and the caribbean including the New England Conservatory of Music, Berklee College of Music, Mount Holyoke College, Lawrence University, the University of Northern Iowa, the University of Richmond, Boston University, Carleton University, the University of Virginia, Fairleigh Dickinson University, the Queen Elizabeth School in Ottawa, Canada, and the Edna Manley College of Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica.
One of Nani's goals at CalArts is the unification of West African music and dance with creative multi-arts initiatives in percussion, dance, music, and choreography. He has strong interdisciplinary interests, drawing from his additional background in traditional textile arts, graphic design, and new media.