Vivien Bassouamina, Congo Brazaville
Vivien breathes dance. His movements comes from the water and the trees, and his understanding that everything in nature is dancing. His first inspiration was none other than Michael Jackson, and he was that 8 year old boy in the streets of Congo, emulating "The King." As Vivien says, "danced saved my life," and it helped him escape the atrocities of war. After touring Europe and the US professionally with a modern dance company, he took up residence in California, USA where he has resided for 9 years as a San Fransisco Bay Area choreographer, director, performer, and dance teacher to his dedicated following of students all over the United States.
Gabriel Fara Tolno, Guinea
Fara Tolno, master dancer and drummer was born in Guinea, West Africa. Fara spent his youth in the village of Kissidugu and Guinea’s capital city, Conakry. He began playing the djembe drum at the age of nine, performing in ensembles at the age of 15, including nine years as the lead drummer for Les Merveilles de Guinea (The Wonders of Guinea). He teaches and performs throughout the United States and Europe. The Kissidugu Foundation and Camp Merveilles are amongst his creative endeavors in the last 10 years.
Mandjou Koné, Burkina Faso
Mandjou Koné was born in Burkina Faso to Malian parents. She was raised in both Mali and Burkina Faso, West Africa. Mandjou descends from the Koné family, a well-known Griot lineage. As a young girl, Mandjou was part of her Griot father’s musical ensemble. She sang, danced, and played djembe, bala, dundun, kora and tama. Later, she performed with the National Ballet of Burkina Faso, and toured Europe. She has taught, performed and conducted workshops at multiple universities, schools and other establishments all across the US.
Djenane Saint-Juste, Haiti
Djenane, native of Haiti, is a faculty member in the world dance department at the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts and an artist in residency at Hamline University and St Olaf University. Ms. Saint Juste is the founder and artistic director of
of Afoutai, a Haitian, Dance Music and Arts company based in Minnesota.
photo credit:Darren Miller