Mellon Guest Artists: Olivier Tarpaga & Gabi Saranouffi
The Department of Dance hosts international artists Gabi Saranouffi, dancer-choreographer (Madagascar/South Africa), Olivier Tarpaga, dancer/choreographer (Burkina Faso/USA), Bouboucar Djiga, musician/composer (Burkina Faso) and Seydou Koita, musician/composer (Mali) to teach classes and share their work, October 24 –November 3, 2018. This 10-day residency will include interactions with students through open rehearsal hours, an informal showing, and an Artist Talk. They will share with us not only their artistry and international experiences but also their personal histories and traditions of the Francophone African nations of Madagascar, Mali and Burkina Faso, enhancing the Department of Dance’s focus on contemporary and African Diaspora forms. During their residency, they will also be visiting classes in the French and History Departments at Denison University.
Gaby Saranouffi, born in Tamatave, Madagascar, is a dancer, choreographer, teacher and Artistic Director of the international contemporary dance festival I’TRÔTRA and the Vahinala company. She is an advisor to the National Arts Council and Letters at the Ministry of Culture and Heritage of Madagascar and is currently working closely with the Minister of Culture and Heritage for their cultural projects. She has collaborated with artists from Africa, Europe, Asia, and India. Cited by the Malagasy media as the Artist of the Year in 2007 for her work in dance, she has continued to develop dance in Madagascar, creating original works, promoting Malagasy artists, and teaching throughout Africa and Europe.
Olivier Tarpaga is a Lester Horton Award-winning dancer-choreographer and musician, a dance lecturer at the Lewis Center for the Arts, and a music lecturer and the director of the African music ensemble for Princeton University’s Department of Music. Tarpaga is the founder and Artistic Director of the internationally acclaimed Dafra Drum and Dafra Kura Band, and co-founder of the Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project, a transnational performance group based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and Philadelphia that draws from Africanist and postmodernist aesthetics. Tarpaga is the Artistic Director of the Nomad Express International Multi-Arts Festival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and has performed and taught dance in fifty countries throughout Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania. Boubacar Djiga
Internationally-acclaimed recording artist Boubacar Djiga is a master musician born in a griot family in Burkina Faso. An accomplished multi-instrumentalist, M. Djiga was the lead Djembé drummer and composer for the national ballet of Burkina Faso and is a permanent faculty member at Ecole International de Dance Irene Tassembedo (EDIT) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Boubacar Djiga is a master Djeli Ngoni player, a traditional two-string guitar from West Africa. He is the founder and artistic director of the very acclaimed Kundé Blues band. He is a popular artist in Burkina and has recorded and toured with award-winning international rap star, Smarty of Burkina Faso, Rido Bayonne, Bil Aka Kora, Jean Philippe Rikel, Alif Naaba, Abdoulaye Diabaté, Issouf Kienou, Sissao and others. He is also an acclaimed acoustic guitarist and plays the kamalen ngoni, bougarabou, and tamanin. M.Djiga has performed and taught music in Niger, Togo, Sénégal, Angola, Benin, Switzerland, France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Netherland, UK, Reunion Island, and Denmark. He is the principal Djeli N’goni player for Olivier Tarpaga’s Dafra Kura Band and one of four live musicians for Declassified Memory Fragment of Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project.
Born in Mali capital city, Bamako, in 1980, Seydou Koita is the son of a guitarist and a female singer. When he was nine years old, he started to learn how to play the guitar with his father, mainly in traditional ceremonies. As a quick learner, he rapidly became the accompanist musician of his father at age 12 and then decided to learn how the play the bass guitar. In 2003, he moved to Burkina Faso, the Land of the Upright People and began playing with orchestras as a bass guitarist and sometimes as an accompanist for Mandingo griots in traditional ceremonies, parties and open-air bars known as “the maquis” in the capital city Ouagadougou. Seydou Koita has become one of the most talented and outstanding solo guitarists in West Africa. He has collaborated with and contributed to the albums of several world-renown artist singers including Amadou Ballaké, Aïcha Koné, Sanfas Thomas, Koko Dembélé, Koumba Gawlo and nationally-renown artists such as Sami Rama, Abidine Dioari, Amety Meria, Idak Bassavé, Sana Bob and many more. He also performed at various festivals and events such as Jazz à Ouaga, La Fête de la musique, Rock à Ouaga, and many others.