Meet the artists who will be in our lineup in Guinea together for the first time!
Youssouf Koumbassa, perhaps the world's most sought-after teacher of Guinea-style African dance. Youssouf was a principle dancer with Ballets Djoliba, one of Guinea's most important national dance companies, for 13 years, training and touring extensively throughout the world. With his prodigious skill and thrilling talent, as well as the precious pedagogy and choreography of his teachers before him, Youssouf relocated to the United States to share his passion and his legacy with dancers and audiences everywhere.
Youssouf has taught countless devoted students around the world the beauty and energy of Guinea dance.
Trained in dance, singing and dundun drums in the ballet G’bassikolo, one of the most prominent ballets of Guinea, she traveled and performed all over the country. In 2006 she traveled to France, where she gained fame as one of the most talented dancers of her generation. Currently she is a singer and dancer in the well-known group Wamali Percussion and teaches at festivals and dance workshops throughout Europe and South America. Particularly appreciated for her unique style, she is feminine and seductive, energetic, and strong. In addition,she has a great ability to improvise, superior agility, as well as a great sense of humor.
M’Bemba Bangoura has traveled the world as a performer and teacher of the Djembe drum, and is revered for his high level of mastery. As a native of Guinea, M’Bemba began playing the djembe at the young age of 7. By the age of 21, he was acclaimed as a master drummer and was invited to play for Ballet Djoliba, the national company of Guinea. Since moving to the US in 1992, M’Bemba is an integral part of the entire drum and dance scene worldwide. He has personally created choreography and developed repertoire for dozens of dance companies worldwide.
He has recorded 3 solo albums, and 2 volumes of DVDs called Wamato: Everybody Look! M’bemba has been a guest artist on dozens of other recording projects, videos, and films. Dedicated to teaching drumming, dancing, and his culture, M’Bemba is one of the prominent ambassadors for Guinean drum and dance!
Bolokada is a master drummer from Kissidougo, Guinea, and one of the world's foremost djembefolas. He joined Les Percussions de Guinée to replace the legendary Noumoudy Keïta as their lead drummer. He has traveled and performed in major venues all over the world and was featured in the IMAX movie PULSE: a Stomp Odyssey. He has released two musical CD’s, Morowaya and Sankaran. He stars in the DVD M'bemba Fakoli: A Musical Journey Through Guinea and has released the djembe instructional DVD M'bara.
He was Artist Associate at the Robert E. Brown Center For World Music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is also the musical director and lead soloist of Ballet Waraba in North Carolina, Ballet Wassa-Wassa in Santa Cruz, California, and Les Percussion Malinke in the San Francisco Bay area.
Mouminatou Camara founded Seewe African Dance Company in September 2005. For a decade, she was the principal dancer for the world-renowned dance company, Les Ballet Africans. She also performed with Les Ballet Djoliba and the Army Ballet. Mouminatou has performed and taught workshops extensively throughout the world. Having spent her life in Guinea, Mouminatou has stated that she has been dancing since she was in her mother's womb. Affectionately called “Moumi”, she brings firsthand knowledge of the history of each dance and imparts that knowledge with great clarity and passion to her students.
Bassidi Koné is of Bwa ethnicity from the Segou region in Mali. Born into a Griot family, Bassidi grew up beside his father’s instrument, the balafon, instilling in him his forefathers’ traditional village songs and rhythms. Bassidi carried on his family’s musical heritage, showing promising skill in both the balafon and the djembe.
After moving to Bamako at 13, Bassidi met Koninba Bagayogo, a meeting that profoundly influenced his musical career as a percussionist. Bassidi tours internationally and collaborates with diverse ensemble groups and musicians from varied musical backgrounds, delving into Afro-jazz, Latin, reggae, classical and contemporary genres.
Harouna Dembele is undoubtedly one of the best djembefolas present. He is a representative of a new generation of West African musicians combining vast knowledge of traditional rhythms with influences of contemporary music.
He resides in his hometown of Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, where he founded the group Parisse, which translates from the language Bwaba meaning mutual aid, solidarity.
Yadi Camara was born in Conakry, Guinea, descendant of a Griot family, who works in the field of traditional and modern music. He participated in traditional ceremonies in his country as well as with contemporary music groups inside and outside of his country. He started playing the Balafon at the age of 3 years old receiving direct training from his father, the prestigious musician Alkhaly Camara "Bakhaly". He has traveled extensively throughout Mexico and South America since his arrival in 2010 to delight students with his talent on the Balafon and with master classes of songs and dundun dance.
Seny is a dancer and choreographer from Guinea. Born into a family of great ethnic sousou artists, he began his education at the age of 10 at the circus school "Circus Guinée" then continued with the dance company "Sourakhata".
In 1998 he was selected by the National Ballet of Guinea ,"Les Ballets Africains," as a dancer, acrobat and musician, with whom he participated in a dozen world tours, representing the folklore and culture of his country and performing in the most prestigious theaters of Europe, China and America. In 2013 he moved to Italy where he immediately joined the company "Les Amis d'Afrique", as a dancer, choreographer, and artistic director.
Marietou Camara was taught by Yamoussa Soumah. Marietou was invited at a young age to join the world famous dance company, Les Merveilles de Guinée, which was directed by the world-renowned dance choreographer Mohamed Kemoko Sano.
She rapidly became one of the group’s celebrated dancers, and toured with Les Merveilles de Guinée for many years. She has also danced with Ballet Djoliba, and with Les Ballet Africans. Now living in the US, she teaches dance internationally.
Babara Bangoura, a Guinean djembefola, is the spiritual son of the Guinean djembe-master Mamady KEITA. Babara is a member of Keita’s mythical group SEWA KAN. In Conakry,Babara joined the Guinean Junior Percussionists at a very early age and later joined the National Ballet 'Djoliba'. Currently he leads his own group FOLI KAN and is very dedicated to propagate the Guinea tradition and the art of playing djembe.
As a djembefola, Babara is dedicated to promoting Mamady's message: music has no boundaries and skincolour is not an obstacle for meeting other cultures. Several artist already integrated his creations into their albums.
Solo is an accomplished traditional dancer from Mali, West Africa. Dedicated to the preservation of traditional dance, music, and culture, Solo is committed to continuous research to maintain an accurate representation and disbursement of traditional information, movement, and rhythm.
A former principal member of one of the premiere companies of Mali, Ballet Du District de Bamako, he is a leader among artists.
Currently Solo splits his time between teaching and performing in the United States and running Kono Gnaga, his NGO in Mali with a mission to preserve traditional dance and music.
Oumar N'Diaye is an acrobatic–dancer, choreographer, percussionist and singer. He shares the artistic direction of Takadja with Francine Martel. Omar was born in Conakry, Guinea, and has been dancing since the age of 7. At 19 years old, Oumar was recruited as dancer–actor for the national troupe Les Grands Ballets Africains of the Republic of Guinea, where during 7 years he completed his artistic training in dance and music and toured in Europe and Africa. He also toured in Europe with that group and performed in shows with Salif Keita and Ismaël Lo. Oumar later relocated to Montréal and joined Takadja with whom he performs now as a dancer.
Laoulaou began his career as a djembe player at 10 in Conakry. Being one of the most talented soloists of one of Guinea's most famous percussion groups, "BOKA JUNIOR," he is active on various stages.
As a djembe instructor, he teaches many students from Europe, America, and Japan.
After his first tour through Japan in 2010, he moved to Tokyo. His energetic and exciting drumming overwhelm his public and never ceases to fascinate. He has produced two DVD's in Guinea: "Wontanara" and "Bere na Matam vol.1 & vol.2.”
Aziz Faye was raised in the village of Medina, the nguewel (griot) suburb of Dakar, Senegal. Nguewels are oral historians, musicians, dancers, singers and storytellers. Faye is the son of Sabar master Sing Sing Faye and protoge of percussion virtuoso Doudou N’Daye Rose. He has been playing the sabar, djembe and djun-djun drums since the age of 6. Faye has performed with Le Ballet du Senegal, toured with such artists as Youssou N’Dour and Baaba Maal, and recorded with Peter Gabriel and Ismael Lo. In Los Angeles, he founded the dance and drum ensemble Khaley Nguewel (Young Griots).
Mamady Sano is a world-renowned dancer, choreographer and musician.
He started dancing and drumming at a young age with his father Mohamed Kemoko Sano. Mamady travelled with Merveilles de Guinee throughout West Africa before he moved to the US in 1997. He was a residence teacher in Long Island University, Alvin Ailey and Djoniba dance and drum School in New York City. Mamady is an amazing dance teacher known for his high-energy classes and intricate dance moves. He is one of the most popular and sought after West African dance teachers in the world. Mamady resides in Iceland and teaches around the globe.