African Masters Conference II


Year: 2012-2013
DanceForce Member: Elena Mosley
Artists: Donna Barrett, Zworkie Nelson, Aszmara Sherry, Manque Sylla
Audience: 803
Counties: Albany, Columbia

Kuumba Dance and Drum offered a 3 day African Masters Residency Program, as part of a follow-up / continuation of the 2011 residency examining contemporary expression of today’s African artists, African American artists and other artists considered outside the African Diaspora, with related dance and music styles.

The conference occurred from October 6 through December 28th, 2012. Several artists were invited back and new artists were included. Dance artists returning included: Youssouf Koumbassa, former artist of Ballet Djoliba, the National Ballet of Guinea; Azsmara Sherry combines Modern Dance with traditional Arab and Turkish dance, and Manque Sylla of Guinea. Regional artists included Zworkie and Felix Nelson, John Dixon, Anthony Molina, Donna Barrett and Kuumba Dance and Drum. Kuumba and the Hudson Opera House collaborated on two concerts 1) Kon Koura Guinea, lead by Mangue Sylla and 2) Transition Ensemble, which featured Aszmara. The Transition Ensemble, a fusion of Jazz with modern and traditional music of the Middle East, with Souren Baronian (Reeds) and Haig Manoukian (Oud), and Swiss singer and percussionist Cornelia Kraft, was well received at the Hudson Opera House.

With both music and dance performances, the audiences experienced a quality evening. A collaboration with Hudson Sister Cities lead to a photo exhibit of residents of Pallisa, Uganda by Susan Saltman and Carol Gans. The exhibit location of the Savoia Bar & Grill exposed many to the photographs and event schedules for the rest of the month were on hand. We were excited to receive support from returning to collaborate are the community partners, Columbia County Chambers of Commerce, Columbia County Tourism and the City of Hudson. Basilica Hudson provided a fabulous venue for the main concert of Kon Koura Guinea, with featured a dance fusion of Wild Roses Middle Eastern dance and Kuumba’s West African fusion. The weekend audiences represented regional areas including New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut with 500 in attendance.

The most exciting event of AMC II was the new partnership with the Trinity Institute Agency on Albany, NY. Trinity has a history of offering free services and programs to their community large. Director Harris Oberlander of Trinity was interested in introducing new art forms, particularly African music and dance. Hence, a third day of workshops was shared with the Albany community and were well attended. The Project Advisors were Maria Suttmeier, Superintendent, Hudson City Schools, Joseph Watson, Vice President/Curriculum Director, Columbia Greene Community College and David Colby, Director of the Chamber of Commerce. The impact of African music and dance on economic tourism was reflected in the business community through foot traffic, support of the arts and food sales, which solidified Tourism support for the second year. Project Directors are Elena Mosley, Artistic Director of Kuumba Dance and Drum/Executive Director of Operation Unite Education and Cultural Arts Center and Gary Schiro, Executive Director of Hudson Opera House, a multi Arts center in Hudson.