Drum classes teaches students basic and advanced West African percussion rhythms. It is upbeat and fun. Students learn timing, focus, how to listen keenly, as well as information about the cultures that the music comes from. It begins with learning the difference between the various drum types: djembe, dundun, kenkeni and sangban, learning the three basic djembe drum sounds: Slap, Tone and Bass and then learning complete rhythms which each have various levels and different accompaniments on the various drums. The goal is to get students to the point where they can participate in a performance involving the full orchestral sound without losing their focus. Percussion classes that occur as part of a school or residency program may end with a performance for communities of friends, teachers and parents.
Dance classes are aimed at teaching students dances from a variety of West African contexts. We begin with warm up exercises that relax the muscles and allow the blood to circulate. The freeing of the body opens up the mind to learn. The last warm up exercise is usually the first dance we will learn. We learn dances such as Koukou, Sinté and Sonsoriné (from the Beyla and Boké regions of Guinea), Lamba & Mandiani (from the Malinké people dispersed throughout Guinea, the Ivory Coast, Burkino Faso and Mali), and Liberté, a dance created by Laurent Camara to celebrate Guinea’s national independence. These dances have many parts and can take several months to learn to completion.
The Drum and Dance workshops are intensive sessions devoted to West African drumming or dancing or both. Workshops can be offered for two to three hour intensive sessions, a whole afternoon or morning, or for a whole weekend lasting several hours each day. One to two-week long workshops can also be offered in the summer for camp programs. In workshops, students will learn small segments of the larger rhythms and dances.
Residencies involve working on a contractual basis for several months, a whole semester or a year with educational institutions that want to expose students to classes of this sort over a period of time. In the case of a residency, the artist would work with the institution to create whatever is desired.