Christopher Rouse - Composer

Press and Program Notes


Ogoun Badagris

Program Note by the Composer

Ogoun Badagris derives its inspiration from Haitian drumming patterns, particularly those of the Juba Dance. Hence, it seemed logical to tie in the work with various aspects of Voodoo ritual. Ogoun Badagris is one of the most terrible and violent of all Voodoo loas (deities) and he can be appeased only by human blood sacrifice. This work may thus be interpreted as a dance of appeasement. The four conga drums often act as the focal point in the work and can be compared with the role of the four most basic drums in the Voodoo religion — the be-be, the seconde, the maman, and the asator. The metal plates and sleighbells are to a certain extent parallels of the Haitian ogan. The work begins with a brief action de grace, a ceremonial call-to-action in which the high priest shakes the giant rattle known as the asson, here replaced by cabasa. Then the principle dance begins, a grouillère: this is a highly erotic and even brutally sexual ceremonial dance which in turn is succeeded by the Danse Vaudou at the point at which demonic possession occurs. The word "reler," which the performers must shriekat the conclusion of the work, is the Voodoo equivalent of the Judaeo-Christian amen.

Christopher Rouse

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