Francis Nii-Yartey

Francis Nii-Yartey Francis Nii-Yartey


Artistic Director (1976 - )

Senior Research Fellow in Dance - Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana



Sal Yeda [Dance, MASA, 1999]

Musu: Saga of the Slaves [Dance]

Solma [Dance]

The King's Dilemma [Dance]

Fransis Nii-Yartey has been in the forefront of the development of Dance-Theatre and ‘Contemporary’ African Dance in Ghana for many years. He is currently an Associate Professor at the School of Performing Arts at the University of Ghana, Legon. He was the Artistic Director of the Ghana Dance Ensemble at the University of from 1976-1993; and the National Dance Company of Ghana at the National Theatre of Ghana form 1993 to 2006. Nii was recently a Visiting Cornell Professor at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, USA. He has just completed a year’s Visiting Professorship at Keene State College, New Hampshire, USA. 


Nii-Yartey has travelled extensively around the world conducting workshops, lecturing and choreographing. His publications include, Alvin Ailey: a Revolutionary in Dance; Creation and Presentation of Traditional African Dances - A Review of Basic Ghanaian Attitudes; Development and Promotion of Contemporary Choreographic Expression in Ghana and Principles of African Choreography - Some Perspectives form Ghana. Nii-Yartey has also served as a consultant; and on numerous local and international boards and committees. 

His choreographic works of over 40 pieces include: Musu-Saga of the Slaves, Asipim, Solma, Legend of Okoryoo, Sochenda, Bukom, Koom and others, etc. In addition to choreographing for numerous special events at home and abroad, Nii has been involved in the Choreographic components of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of all the Foot ball tournaments Ghana has hosted since 1999. This includes the Opening Ceremony for the World 11 versus Africa 11 Football Tournament to commemorate the 2011 Africa Union Day Celebrations - organized by Micheal Essien of Chelsea fame, as AU Ambassador for peace. 

Since 1998, Nii-Yartey has also begun his own dance institution in Ghana, Noyam African Dance Institute, the first of its kind in the country; to explore his choreographic vision. Both in his written work, scholarship and choreographic works, Nii-Yartey works to investigate ways in which dance can both reflect and shape social change. 

In addition to his numerous awards, Nii was awarded the Grand Medal (Civil Division) by the Head of State of Ghana in the year 2000, for his contribution to Choreography and Dance Development generally in Ghana. He was - listed in the 28th Edition of Dictionary of International Biography published by the International Biography Centre, Cambridge, England, 2000. 

Rsearch Interests 

My research interests for the past several years have been the creation and development of Contemporary African Dance in Ghana; and the continuation of the development of Dance-Drama initiated by the late Emeritus Professor Albert Mawere-Opoku. 

These life-long projects have been largely facilitated by my work with international collaborators, including academic institutions, the Ghana Dance Ensemble, the National Dance Company of Ghana; and most recently, the Noyam African Dance Institute. 

My other research area is looking into the historical development of Dance-Theatre in Ghana as well as the development of movement vocabulary and performance techniques for the emerging contemporary African Dance genre in Ghana. 

Completed Research Projects 

Completed research projects completed within the last five years include: 

1. A book on “Contemporary Transformations of African Dance in Ghana” (Ready for publication) 

2. Development of first phase of contemporary African Dance Technique (Noyam) in Ghana. 

Ongoing Research Projects 

1. Creation of Stage productions of Contemporary African dance as an art form in Ghana. 

2. Development of a distinctive script for the production of Dance-Theatre (much in the same way as script for plays) 

3. Development of Dance-Map of Ghana.


Nii-Yartey F. 2009. Principles of African Choreography: Some Perspectives from Ghana (Contemporary Choreography in Contexts: A Critical Reader. Edit. Jo Butterworth and Liesbeth Wildschut, Rutledge, London and New York, pp. 254 – 268.

Nii-Yartey F. 2006. Dance Symbolism in Africa, African in Contemporary prospective: A textbook for undergraduate Students, edited by Takyiwaa Manu and Esi Sutherland. Forthcoming publication: the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon.

Nii-Yartey F. 2006. Globalization and African Culture: the Role of the Arts, Special Edition 2006: Legon Journal of the Humanities, Faculty of Arts, University of Ghana, Legon.

Nii-Yartey F. 2005a. Dance in Ghana, contributed to the ‘Web-Site Complex’ of the Ghana National Commission on Culture, Accra.

Nii-Yartey F. 2004. The Gobi Dance Suite – a Paradigm of Acculturation, Research Review, New Series Vol. 20 No. 1, Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, pp. 21-31.

Nii-Yartey F. 2003. The Development of African Dance-Theatre in Ghana: a Personal Profile, Composition and Transmission of Musical forms in African, edited by Professors Kofi Agawu and Kofi Anyidoho, under imprint of the council for the Development of social science research in Africa, CODESRIA Dakar.

Nii-Yartey F. 2003. The Creation of New Music for the African Dance-Theatre, “Composition and Transmission of Musical forms in African” edited by Professors Kofi Agawu and Kofi Anyidoho, under imprint of the council for the Development of social science research of Africa, CODESRIA Dakar. 

Nii-Yartey F. 2000. Development and Promotion of Contemporary Choreographic Expressions in Ghana, A Journal of African Cultural and Society, pp. 125 – 130 ed. Kofi Anyidoho & James Gibbs (Matatu 21-22; Amsterdam & Atlanta GA: Editions Rodopi).

Nii Yartey F. 1991. Alvin Ailey-A Revolutionary in Dance: a historical and biographical sketch of his choreographic works, Research Review, New Series Vol. 7 Nos. 1 and 2, 1991, Institute of African Studies University of Ghana, pp. 87-92.

Nii-Yartey F. 1989. Creation and Presentation of Traditional African Dances – a Review of Basic Ghanaian Attitudes, African Quarterly, Vol 29, Nos. 1-2 ICCR, New Delhi, India, pp.57-64.

Nii-Yartey, F., 1979, Dance – Theatre in Ghana, Great Soviet Encyclopedia Year Book, Moscow, USSR. 

Nii-Yartey, F., 1973 “Choreography in Traditional Dances”, the Legon Observer, Vol. VIII No. 6, (March 23) pp. 126-129. 


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