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The Dress Rehearsal
Mrs. Naomi Diouf, Artistic Director for Diamano Coura West African Dance Company, recently spoke with root about the company, the dance, and this year's performance:
Where are the dancers in your company from?
Most are from America, their average age is 24. Many are groomed for performing from apprentice programs at school from when they were teenagers and earlier. This includes the drummers of the group, except for the director, of course. They start in the school program and then are moved up into the company.
Tell our readers about the 'conversation' that happens between drummer and dancer during a solo:
Drum and dance is an inseparable relationship. Communication has to occur in African dance as the drum is a language and the dancer understands that language. At some point the drummer talks to the dancer and then the dancer gives the signal. After both have communicated, they come together, and then the event occurs.
It is about dynamics and communication as it happens. One must understand the drum language to let the music come into your body. It must enter the dancer's body, and then the dancer exhibits that translation through the movement.
What is the theme of Diamano Coura's new performance: Jusat: Past, Present, Future about?
It is the story of connection between Africans and Afro-Americans. We hope to get audiences to think about the greater picture and to go back to old ways. For example, a council of elders would settle conflict instead of wars. Jusat covers Africa's Golden Age to the trans-atlantic slave trade to the current situations in Africa. We go back to African ideals to form a solution for the future.