Magazine article Dance Magazine

Hot in the City

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Hot in the City

Article excerpt

KanKouran West African Dance Company Lincoln Center New York, New York August 18, 2002

"Stop fanning yourselves!" KanKouran West African Dance Company director and choreographer Assane Konte joked to the packed audience who gathered at Lincoln Center Out of Doors, despite it being one of New York's hottest summer evenings. Luckily the performers had enough energy to rouse even this heat-weary crowd, with one dance after another full of high-powered jumps, stomps, shimmies, and kicks.

Each piece, based on traditional music and dance from Senegal and Mali, began with several live drummers, followed by call-and-response songs heard from offstage. Women and men often came out and danced separately, engaging in what seemed to be friendly competitions. Movements were big, quick, and rounded, with high knees, flexed feet, and arms flapping up and down, as if they could take flight.

The traditional West African costumes, designed by Konte, were as colorful and bright as the choreography, with layered oranges, blues, yellows, and purples filling the stage. In one piece the women wore belts with hanging shells around their hips, accentuating the quick, rhythmic lower-body shakes.

Between dances Konte spoke proudly of his thirty-four member, Washington, D.C.-based troupe. He explained how the drum-based music, directed by Medoune Yacine Gueye, and the dances tell the history of Africa. He also spoke of the importance of children and community, and even introduced some members of his junior company, including one drummer who had just graduated from college. …

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