Marie Basse-Wiles – Senegalese Dance and Drumming

Year: 2023-2024
DanceForce Member: Jacquie Davis
Partnering Member: Margaret Kaiser
Artist: Marie Basse-Wiles
Audience: 950
County: Monroe

This was Part 3 of a series of DanceForce projects that focused on development of traditional African dance and music skills. Especially designed for a large group of experienced regional community members, the focus of Part 1 was Guinea, West Africa. Part 2 looked at traditional dance and music as reflected in contemporary American dance themes with a residency with the well recognized company, Urban Bush Women. The focus of Part 3 was Senegal, West Africa.

The distinguished Senegalese artist Marie Basse-Wiles spent 6 days in Brockport, NY in October 2023 during which she taught classes, many open to the community, and auditioned advanced regional African dance participants with whom she created and rehearsed a work that could be performed by them later at locations to be determined. Two weekend performances were on the SUNY Brockport campus.

Accompanied by three musicians/drummers with specialized skill appropriate for her challenging Senegalese work, the musicians returned to perform in November and again in April 2024. Costumes were designed and created to the artist’s specifications by the University’s dance costume specialist.

The dance was performed in SUNY Brockport’s fully produced DANSCORE concert in November, in the April Sankofa concert and was available for performance in other locations. Ten regional dancers with advanced level African dance skills were given the rare opportunity to work with Ms Basse-Wiles and to add a new piece to their own performance repertory. In addition to artist fees and expenses for Ms Basse-Wiles and her three drummers, the regional dancers received compensation for their expenses. The project was supported in part with DanceForce funds contributed by Buffalo area member Margaret Kaiser who knew that participant interest would be high in her area.