DA AFRICAN VILLAGE ARTISTS
ELISANGELA “DANDHA DA HORA” SOUSA was born and raised in Salvador, Bahia, Dandha Da Hora has been a member of Ilê Aiyê, one of Brazil’s most important musical and cultural institutions, since she was 6 years old. A master dancer, as well as vocalist and percussionist, Dandha invokes the incredible spirit of Ilê Aiyê and Salvador, Bahia, each time she steps onstage. As a lead dancer with Ilê Aiyê, Dandha toured internationally and has shared the stage with many of Braz…il’s most renowned artists such as Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Daniela Mercury. In addition to performing with Ilê Aiyê and SambaDá, Dandha has performed with Casa Samba (New Orleans, LA), SambaDendê and Bateria Alegria (Boulder, CO), Banda Remelexo and Bahia Soul (Bay Area, CA). Alongside a full touring schedule, Dandha also is a master dance teacher and teaches ongoing dance classes in Santa Cruz and the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as giving special workshops across the country. Whether she is teaching, dancing, singing, or playing an instrument, Dandha’s art always reflects her passion for sharing Afro-Brazilian culture, and she brings a message of hope, love, equality and freedom every time she performs.
Oumou Faye is from Dakar, Senegal where she started dancing before she could walk. She is known for her grace and joy in movement. She is a patient and clear teacher. She now lives in Santa Cruz with her husband Mbor Faye (who drums for her classes) and her two children, Coumba and Seyne. They hold weekly popular classes there and also share their art beyond leading dance classes throughout the greater Bay Area.
Marietou Camara was born in Guinée, West Africa. Recognized as a dance prodigy, she started dancing with her mother at age five, performing in front of live audiences in the capital city of Conakry for many years. Camara won a major dancing award for her solo performance in the program called “Kolou or Crazy Girl”.
MANDJOU KONE was born into a Griot family in Burkina Faso.She has performed since she was five years old, touring throughout Africa, Europe and the United States. She has taught in Africa, in Europe (Paris, Grenoble, and Zurich) and the United States since 1996. As a young girl Mandjou assisted her Griot father in keeping his band alive by singing, dancing and playing instruments like the Djembe, Bala, Dundun, Kora and Tama. She also danced and performed with the National Ballet o…f Burkina Faso. With her brothers group ‘Surutukunu’Mandjou toured Europe extensively as lead singer. Mandjou was then invited to come to the United States to help translating a documentary about the last 40 years of her family’s musical tradition and history. Taale Laafi Rossellini met the Kone family in Burkina Faso in the late 60’s. He produced a documentary about the Kone Family, titled “Great Great Great Grandparents’ Music” The film’s US premiere was in the National Museum of African Art in Washington DC, Best Documentary Nomination, Los Angeles PanAfrican Film Festival, the biggest Black film festival in the U.S. and later on the west coast at the Cascade African Film Festival in Portland Oragon. “Great Great Great Grandparents’ Music” was praised by documentary critics, and recieved several awards and nominations, including: * Prix Spécial Award, FESPACO (Festival Panafricain du Cinéma de Ouagadougou), the biggest Black film festival in the world. Awarded by Ousmane Sembene, internationally acclaimed author and filmmaker. Mandjou is a very popular dance educator and has been teaching and performing over the past eleven years throughout the US. In March 2003 in Santa Cruz, CA she was honored with the ‘Calabash Award’ for her excellence in the ethnic arts. She currently teaches West African Dance at UC Santa Cruz.
Vivien Bassouamina first discovered his love for dancing at the age of 8 watching and imitating Michael Jackson, and soon began studying hip hop with Jon Mora, Vanuse Amigo, Dj Pazo, and Pranse Monar. When Vivien turned 10 he joined Ballet Sama were he learned and immediately started performing Traditional Congolese dance with his teacher Muliek Mequiza. The Ballet National of Congo saw Vivien dancing in Mulek’s group and asked him to join their company. In 1997 Vivien discovered his love for modern dance in Ballet Tchere with his first Modern dance teacher Jurand. After Vivien broke away from the National Ballet of Congo at the age of 19 he began to choreograph and perform in many different groups. Between 2001- 2006 he formed, managed, choreographed and performed in 5 different groups. Kimbongela was solely a Traditional Congolese dance group but the others, T4, Zoudjakatchopa and Ballet Zu were created after Vivien had studied classical Ballet intensely with the Parisian company ‘Paco Decina’, with Paco Decina and Valeria Apicella. Meanwhile he continued to study Modern dance with teacher Julie Decavie and also Modern and Expressionist with Hyacinthe Tobio. Thus inspired, Vivien began to create his own beautiful blend of mystical Traditional Congolese dance, with the precision of Classical Ballet and Modern dance. He found that while most people who were dancers in Congo Brazzaville would stick to just one style, his love for such an eclectic mix of dance pushed him on to further studies. In 2005 Vivien studied with Nii Tagoe, a choreographer and traditional dancer from Ghana who was then living in England. He joined his company Frititi for two months and then became a top performer in FESPAM ( Festival Pan-African de Musique). In 2006 he co-founded the company Li Sangha. Vivien choreographed this group with one other dancer and it was at this time that he was invited to travel to France to attend the African choreography gathering in Paris. They earned 2 laurals and 2nd place overall in the competition as well as the France Radio Internationale dance prize with their study ‘Mana Mambu’. Li Sangha toured in Africa, Amsterdam, Finland, Italy, Spain, Germany, France and were also invited to come to San Fransisco to perform. Since immigrating to America in 2007, Vivien has taught at several conferences, and choreographed and performed in several festivals in San Fransisco and the Bay Area. He teaches traditional Congolese dance in Santa Cruz, California and the Bay Area.Vivien’s style is Contemporary Nangama Congolese dance. Nangama is a spiritual dance in which you are connected to and become part of nature, through emotional, gestural expression and movement. The foundation of the Nangama style of dance, is Traditional Congolese, which it combines with Modern dance. Since beginning Modern dance in 1997 Vivien started seeing that dance was in everything that moves and does not move, in life, from trees to babies; he is a people and nature watcher, and is intrigued by everything! He studies dogs, babies, the way the branches hang from a tree, people walking or simply sitting or relaxing, the sun, the moon, fire, water; all energy. He studied the ocean for hours: each wave twisting and turning in a different movement. He studied trees, their strength, grace and subtle motion. and if he watched and waited for long enough he could find its breath in his own body. Vivien slept, ate and dreamed dance. Each class he studied, whether Contemporary, Traditional, Hip Hop, Break dance, Ballet, Caperiota, Jazz, Street dance, Modern, Lyrical or Yoga, he found each carried it’s own life inside. Vivien brings all of life to every movement in dance. Each solo performed, whether Traditional Congolese, Modern, Contemporary or Lyrical expression, has excitement, excellence and complete perfection.
Ibrahima (Ibou) N’gom facilitates community drumming and dancing with adults and students of all ages. He has worked with and performed for elementary though high school students, at-risk youth and university students. He is a SPECTRA Resident Artist. Ibou speaks English, Spanish, French and his native Wolof. His group Domu Africa is a favorite in Santa Cruz and the Bay Area. Together they bring the sights and sounds of Senegal alive through traditional music and dance performances. With his set of student sized instruments Ibou can turn any room into an African drum corp. His patient and friendly teaching style makes him a popular teacher. Born into a Griot family of traditional musicians in Senegal, West Africa, he has been carrying on his family’s musical lineage since childhood. Ibrahima toured with two prominent Senegalese dance companies, the 2nd National Ballet of Senegal and the Ballet Sinomew before coming to the Unites States seven years ago. Since then Ibou has been working to share his native culture’s music and dance traditions with US audiences and especially students.
M’Bor Faye is a drummer that created a name for himself in the Bay Area through his talent as a versatile drummer (Djembe, Sabar, Djun Djun etc…).