Tenth annual Abene African Dance & Drum Festival


BRATTLEBORO - African Dance Vermont and the Arts Council of Windham County present the 10th annual Abene African Dance and Drum Festival, Aug. 21 through 24 at the (air-conditioned) Brattleboro Stone Church, 210 Main Street in Brattleboro. We are especially pleased to welcome back Caro Diallo, Senegalese choreographer and lead dancer of the dance troupe Black Soofa. Caro is the primary teacher and inspiration for the festival, which was named for his village in southern Senegal, West Africa: "Abene" means "place where good is encountered."

Master teacher, dancer, and choreographer Caro Diallo has performed and taught throughout West Africa, the U.S., and Europe. During the festival weekend, he will teach African dance classes for all levels, including beginners. Those who would like to come and simply watch are welcome to do so without charge. Diallo's exquisite skills as a teacher and a dancer, and his elegant choreographies continue to delight both students and spectators.

This year the festival is taking a leap in the number of dynamic and impressive teachers who will join Diallo in offering classes. It is our chance to showcase fantastic teachers from whom we are fortunate to learn on a weekly basis throughout the year, as well as some visiting guest teachers.

Pape Ba is a master drummer and dancer from Senegal, West Africa. He performed with and was one of the leaders of Les Ballets Africaine de Sangomare, a premier African dance troupe in West Africa. Pape has taught and performed with Jeh Kulu in Burlington, and at Marlboro College, and currently teaches on a regular basis in Northampton, Massachusetts and Brattleboro.

Georgette Adjie, from Cameroon, currently resides in Brattleboro and brings her rich cultural traditions to us through teaching, performing and educational tours. She has danced and toured with the National Ballet of Cameroon and started The Singo Dance Troupe, which performs internationally as well as regionally. She teaches monthly in Brattleboro.

Kabisko Kaba, from Guinea, has danced with Les Merveille de Guinea, done a teaching residency at Lincoln Center in New York, and has been a resident performing artist for Walt Disney World. Since living in western Massachusetts he has taught at the Five Colleges and is currently the African dance teacher at the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School. He also teaches regularly in Northampton.

Visiting guest teacher Tacko Cissokho began studying dance as a child in Senegal, West Africa. She has danced with the most prominent dance companies and singers throughout Senegal and led the Ballet Nationale du Senegal, touring internationally for over twenty-five years. She has taught dance workshops across the United States.

The dance classes will be accompanied by the live drumming of Namory Keita, Raoul Ombang, and the other dance teachers, who are all proficient drummers.

Namory Keita will teach West African drumming on Saturday and Sunday. Keita is an accomplished Guinean musician who was the lead drummer for his village, Sangbaralla. He has performed and taught worldwide and played on several recordings. Currently he tours with the Akwaaba Ensemble. He teaches a weekly drum class in Brattleboro and is skilled at meeting the learning needs of students with various levels of experience. Djembe drums will be provided for those students who need them.

Wyoma will teach a Saturday morning yoga class at the Abene Festival. She is a holistic healer and master dancer who offers classes, workshops, and trainings in an integrated model of movement and healing. She has traveled and taught extensively in all parts of Africa. For over 40 years, she has performed and conducted workshops throughout the U.S. and internationally. She is also the co-founder of Ngoma Drum and Dance in Boston.

On Saturday evening a Gala Performance at the Brattleboro Stone Church will be preceded at 6 p.m. by a Malian meal offered for sale by Dienba Macalou (of Brattleboro Farmer's Market fame). World music percussionist and beat poet, Tony Vacca, along with Wyoma, will set you on the journey into a celebration of Africa. This year an original storyline is being developed and choreographed especially for the Abene Festival by Pape Ba and Kabisko Kaba. The piece is being rehearsed all summer and will be presented by the festival dancers and drummers during Saturday night's show.

Throughout the festival African wares will be for sale. Please join us in this high-spirited experience of the cultures of West Africa! To see a video giving you a flavor of what you can anticipate go to: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnKz52tQLao.

For a full schedule and fees see www.africandancevt.com. Tickets for the classes and performance are available on the web site. See also Abene African Dance & Drum Festival Vermont on Facebook, write to africandancevt@gmail.com, or call 802-380-5152 for more information.


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