Celebrating 20 Years!
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Mandjou Koné and Salif Koné were born into the well-known Koné Griot family of Mali and Burkina Faso. The Griots of West Africa are world-renowned for their unique ability to record events carefully and accurately. It is the responsibility of this caste of historians, musicians and healers to preserve the culture, passing history from one generation to the next. One cannot learn to become a Griot; rather one is born a Griot.
As a young girl Mandjou Koné performed with her Griot father's band singing, dancing and playing the Djembe, Bala, Dundun, Kora and Tama. Mandjou also performed with the National Ballet of Burkina Faso, and toured Europe as the lead singer with her brother's group Surutukunu. She first came to the United States to help translate a documentary about the last 20 years of her family's musical tradition and history. For the past twelve years Mandjou has taught and performed throughout the U.S. as a much sought after and popular educator. She received the Calabash Award for her excellence in ethnic arts in Santa Cruz, CA in 2003. She is currently living in California with her husband and new daughter and teaching at UC Santa Cruz.
Salif Koné is a Djeli (Griot) and began studying traditional music when he was two years old. When he was eight years old he joined the national group of young musicians in Burkina Faso, Maison des Jeunes du Burkina, traveling throughout Africa. At 14, he became the youngest musician ever to join the National Ballet of Burkina Faso. He traveled throughout Europe and Africa as a percussion soloist with the National Ballet. Salif first visited the United States in 2000 and returned in 2002 to live in Santa Cruz, California. He has performed all over the United States and taught workshops in universities throughout the country. Currently, he accompanies dance classes and teaches in the music department at UC Santa Cruz and continues performing with his band Milima; he's also working on his first album.
Habib C. Iddrisu is a traditionally trained dancer and musician from Tamale, in northern Ghana. He was born into the Dagbamba/Dagomba Bizing family of court historians and musicians. Habib started one of the most prestigious traditional music and dance groups in Tamale, the Youth Home Cultural Group, when he was just fourteen. In 1993, he won the Entertainment/Arts Critics & Reviewers Association of Ghana (ECRAG/ACRAG) award as Ghana's Best Dancer. In Ghana, he led the Novisi Dance Group; was the lead drummer and choreographer of Abibigromma (a company at the University of Ghana); and choreographed for many other groups and events, including President Bill Clinton's visit to Ghana in 1998. He has toured the world extensively with traditional singing and dancing groups.
Habib recently received his Ph. D. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University, where he founded the university's African Drum and Dance Ensemble. He served as a Presidential Fellow for SUNY Brockport in African Studies and Dance. Habib has his MA and BA degrees in African History and African Studies from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. In 2002, Habib's version of the South African gumboot dance was selected and presented at the national American College Dance Festival (ACDF) at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.
Events: Please check our News and Events News and Events page to stay updated on this exciting year!
Our purpose is to learn about dance traditions from a variety of African cultural groups, to honor, celebrate, and work with those traditions, and to create educational and entertaining performances for children and adults.