Traditional Dances and Rhythms of Guinea

Year: 2021-2022
DanceForce Member: Jacquie Davis
Artists: Mouminatu Camara, Yousouf Koumbassa
Community Partners: Alfred University; The College at Brockport; Garth Fagan Dance; Hobart & William Smith Colleges; University of Rochester
Audience: 600
Counties: Allegany, Monroe, Ontario

Mr. Youssouf Koumbassa and Ms. Mouminatu Camara are recognized as among the finest performers and teaching artists coming from Guinea West Africa.  This teaching residency was developed to bring them to western New York especially to work with experienced dancers and drummers located in the region.  From her teaching, Ms Camara also developed a dance that was performed in SUNY Brockport’s Sankofa African Dance and Drum Ensemble spring performances. 

During his two week teaching residency Mr. Koumbassa traveled to Rochester (both the Garth Fagan Dance School and University of Rochester), to Alfred (Alfred University), to Geneva (Hobart & Wm Smith Colleges) to teach in addition to the daily classes at SUNY Brockport.  Participants included students and guests at each location, with many experienced dancers and drummers from the region excited to work with them in the open community classes. 

The presence of the two esteemed guests, along with Mr.Mohamed Diaby, Brockport’s Guinean resident master drummer, provided a cultural emersion for all attendees.  The large number of experienced traditional African dancers and drummers in the region was evident; seeing them working with the guest artists was thrilling. 

Planning for this project began in Fall 2020 and classes were added as community partners continued to make impassioned requests, even after the residency began. Ms. Jenise Anthony, Brockport dance professor and Sankofa artistic director, was a close partner throughout the conception, planning, and teaching for this multi-year project.