Diamano Coura West African Dance Company's Home Season - "Empowerment"
Diamano Coura West African Dance Company commemorates its 44th Anniversary with Public Performances to honor the companys long-standing commitment to community, cultural traditions, and education.
Diamano Coura West African Dance Company will present two gender empowerment dance/music/dramas, The Village of SoSo Women staged by Liberian folklorist Mr. Nimely Napla and Balore choreographed by Senegalese Emmy Award winner, Dr. Zakarya Diouf.
Village of So So Women shows the power of the Zoe, as the high priestess in this village uninhabited by men. In this village hidden in the forest region of Liberia, the women are very capable of performing all activities relating to their survival (farming, fishing, cutting wood, hunting, governing, drumming etc.). This was the time women demonstrated their strength and power. The story recounts what happens when men discover the village, and the first time that women interact with men.
Liberia has much of what remains of West Africas rain forest, but logging is rampant. Trying to force Liberia to stop chopping down trees through sanctions would be high-handed and ineffective. Paying Liberia to do so, would address its economic needs.. Stopping deforestation in Liberia would be a small victory, but the strategy behind it could be tremendously important to climate-change policy.
The Village of So So Women told in six acts dance/drama is filled with various traditional songs and dances from some of the diverse ethnic groups of Liberia such as the Vai, Kpelle and Kru and visual art pieces as part of the set design. The story unveils an almost forgotten narrative that women have always possess the power to govern themselves and a lesson that tells how we, as a global community, can gain wisdom from the teachings and stories of the past.
From the Serer Ethnic Group, Senegal: The Serer are fisherman and farmers who migrated from the Nile River of northeastern Africa to what is now known as Senegal in West Africa. The Serer, who are composed of four interrelated groups: the Sinesine, the Nimingco, the Safane, and the NDout, are known for their abilities to make predictions about the conditions of the ocean by looking at the sea and sky. This dance/musical in four scenes takes a look at males role in society and the important social role of the community in providing support and encouragement to these young men.
Wong The Send-Off - A celebration of our men
The time for the young boys to leave has come. Women dance and sing as the drums play to announce the happy day. The Griot oral historian - calls out the names of every woman and man whose child will go to the secret bush. There is a large procession of the villagers bringing the youth. Each step of the way, the mothers say goodbye and give courage to their sons and the sons in turn show courage and promise to complete the process without running away. The priest awaits them at the edge of the forest to put them through the process to be reborn.
The highly acclaimed company will perform Saturday, November 30th at 7:30 PM at the Malonga Center for the Arts Theater, 1428 Alice Street in Oakland, CA 94612.
Background. Diamano Coura West African Dance Company is dedicated to the preservation, education, and appreciation of traditional West African music, dance, theater, and culture. Since its inception in 1975 Diamano Coura, under the direction of Emmy Award winner Dr. Zak Diouf and Artistic Director Naomi Diouf, has implemented its mission through ongoing workshops, performances, youth programs, touring engagements, lecture demonstrations, community outreach, and creative partnership programs with renowned artists and performing companies. In addition, Diamano Coura strives to portray West African music and dance specifically as forms not simply for entertainment or exhibition, but rather, means by which communities educate, communicate, organize, and preserve their ancestral past. Diamano Coura in the Senegalese Wolof language means "those who bring the message."
Dr. Zakarya Diouf is the Founder and Director of Diamano Coura West African Dance Company. He received his Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from U.C. Berkeley and was director of the Mali Ensemble, a multinational company representing the unity of the West African countries of Mali, Senegal, and Guinea. He has done extensive research into African music and dance along with choreographing some of the best dance and dramatic pieces for renowned companies including the San Francisco Ballet. In 2005, along with the Honorable Ron V. Dellums, Dr. Diouf was honored with the Community Leadership Award by the San Francisco Foundation for his vision in unifying the African cultural arts community, for serving as a mentor and educator of young artists, and for his artistic contributions to the development of African-based performing arts. On June 22, 2013 he received the Malonga Casquelourd Lifetime Achievement Award from the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival.
Nimely Napla - Guest Choreographer
Former director of the Liberian National Culture Troupe, Nimely V. Napla was trained at the Kendeja Cultural Center and School in Liberia as a dancer, visual artist, costume designer and choreographer. Most of his training took place at the government sponsored Kendeja Cultural Center and School in the capital city of Monrovia, Liberia. In 1980 Nimely joined the Liberian National Cultural Troupe and within two years rose to becoming the companys director. While on a world tour, in 1984 Nimely came to the United States to perform at the Louisiana World Exposition. During the tour a major civil war broke out in Liberia and many members of the Cultural Troupe including Nimely gained asylum in the United States. While in Louisiana, he was awarded a certificate from the Commissioner General for his visual art and choreographic work with the New Orleans SPCA classic horse show. Nimely is one of the few surviving folklorist and artist living in the United States and keeping Liberian traditional arts alive. Nimely is the bearer of knowledge and traditions that have become almost extinct even within the country of Liberia. As a Liberian cultural artist he has been called upon by Liberian heads of state, university scholars, community organizations and Liberian social organizations based in the United States to lecture about Liberian performance culture.
Where are they now? Diamano Coura continues to embody an ever-evolving entourage of carefully trained male and female senior company dancers, actors, singers, acrobats, musicians, masked dancers, and visual artists representing the African diaspora.
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Diamano Coura is supported by the City of Oakland and City of Oakland Cultural Funding Program, Walter and Elise Haas Fund, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, International Association of Blacks in Dance, Dance USA for Artistic Director Naomi Diouf, Bisemi, East Bay Community Foundation, and the Malonga Center for the Arts.
Malonga Casquelourd Theater (View)
1428 Alice Street
Oakland, CA 94612
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