Seattle, Washington–The UW World Music Series presents Les Ballets Africains, The National Dance Company of the Republic of Guinea, a celebration of West-African folk history in a spectacular night of dance and song on Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1, 2006, 8:00 p.m. at Meany Theater, (University of Washington campus).
Led by Artistic Director Hamidou Bangoura, the West African dance & theater company features 11 woman dancers-singers, 10 male dancers and 8 musicians playing flute, kora, percussion, (rattles, balafon) and drums (jembe, doundoun, kenkeni, and krin). The 2-act jubilee program marries tribal traditions such as rites of passage initiations as they have transformed into modern consciousness, (young women are no longer circumcised), along with a rousing story about overthrowing colonialism and reclaiming the power of community, drumming, dancing and singing and traditional costumes.
Act 2 brings up the issues of city folks returning to the village and
bringing the allure of modern clothing and behaviors. A rivalry
between the village and the city women develops, but could be seen as a
broader metaphor for tradition verses the modern world. Act 2 ends in
peace and the frenzy of dance and polyrhythms that represents the
diversity of indigenous cultures on the African continent. The
audience for this program will be immersed in West African instruments,
dance, drumming & acrobatics, history, indigenous culture and
The company, Les Ballets Africains of Keita Fodeba was created by the
late Guinean poet and choreographer, Keita Fodeba in 1952 while he was
residing abroad in France. Les Ballets Africain was founded during the
fight of African countries against colonialism. After, Guinea gained
its independence in 1959, the company was named Les Ballets Africains,
the national Ensemble of the Republic of Guinea by the first president
of the republic, Ahmad Sekou Toure. The company was charged with the
mission to be “Ambassadors of Culture.” And for the past 50 years, the
dance company have experienced worldwide success while sharing Guinean
culture and history with their audiences.
“In a compelling program celebrating the company’s half century, Les
Ballets Africains performs traditional dance, music, acrobatics and
storytelling. Pulsing rhythms from ancient tribal instruments build
the excitement as the company bursts onto the stage in an explosion of
dance and song. Fascination legends filled with humans, animals and
spirits unfold in a fast-paced joyous celebration that will leave
audiences breathless. Les Ballets Africains captures the elemental
energy of its native land in a performance that is pure sensation.”
(World Arts Inc. web site,
For more information about the UW World series event, go to http://www.uwworldseries.org and for ticket information.
Meany Theater is located on the UW campus on 15th Avenue NE between NE
40th and 41st Streets. To order tickets, please call or visit the UW
Arts Ticket Office at (206) 543–4800, located at 4001 University Way
NE or call Ticketmaster at (206) 292-ARTS).
Contributed by Patty-Lynne Herlevi
[Photo courtesy of Les Ballets Africains].