Dance Program News

West African Dance and Drum Course Kicks Off!

The RWU Dance & Performance Studies program is honored to offer West African Dance and Drumming to our curriculum this spring

By Cathy Nicoli
Assitan 'Sita' Coulibaly

We are fortunate to welcome to our teaching artist roster: Malian-American dancer Assitan ‘Sita’ Coulibaly, and drummers Moussa Troaré and Seydou Coulibaly. They will be sharing their Malian culture with RWU students in an immersive interdisciplinary studio class, suitable for all students – no matter level of experience, major, or minor!

There’s still time to sign up for this course during add/drop period – Feb. 8! And, keep an eye open for future open-studio and campus-wide events with these teaching artists and their students!

Assitan CoulibalyAssitan 'Sita' Coulibaly is a Malian-American dancer, choreographer, and writer based in Providence, RI. She began training in West African dance with New Works/World Traditions at Brown University with whom she has performed and travelled worldwide. Much of her choreographic work is greatly inspired by her Malian heritage and is highlighted by her fusion of Coupe Decalé, Afrobeats, traditional West African, and Hip Hop dance and music styles. These bodies of work are meant to reflect the fun and energetic community lifestyle that is reminiscent of her childhood growing up between the USA and Mali. She has taught West African Dance at Wheaton College, the Dance Complex (Cambridge, MA), and is currently fulfilling the role of the Artist in Residence at TAPA-Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts. Assitan holds her B.A. in Psychology with a double minor in Peace and Social Justice and French Studies from Wheaton College-MA (2017) and 200-hr Yoga Teacher Certification (B4C 2020). She is one of five founding members of The Haus of Glitter Dance Company, a member of New Works/ World Traditions Dance Company, a principal dancer with Troupe Yeredon in Mali, and was just awarded RISCA’s Folk Arts Fellowship. Outside of her African Dance practice, Assitan enjoys practicing Yoga, Meditation, Latin (Bachata, Merengue, Salsa, and Cumbia), Dancehall, Step, and Contemporary dance styles. In addition to her art, she is the acting Director of Legacy Arts & Education at Centre Yérédon in Bamako, Mali and a Teaching Artist and Performer with Pushed Learning and Media, a Boston based non-profit that specializes in diversity, privilege, and racial justice education.

Moussa TraoréMoussa Traoré was born and raised in Mali, West Africa. He has been playing the djembe for over forty years – in 1984, after completing a twelve-year apprenticeship, he was deemed a 'master' by his teacher, Sega Cisse. Moussa has achieved great recognition throughout Mali as an accomplished musician in theater, traditional ceremonies, as well as the Malian pop scene. Among musicians in Bamako, Moussa is considered to be one of the top djembe players in the country. Since moving to the U.S., Moussa has continued to distinguish himself as a highly respected teacher and performer. He has given drum workshops in cities throughout the U.S. and China. Currently, he is teaching at schools, offering weekly community classes, leading drum ensembles for West African dance classes, and performing for special events and workshops, and is skilled in traditional methods of drum repair.

Seydou CoulibalySeydou Coulibaly is one of Mali’s leading dancers, teachers, and choreographers. He was named Mali’s #1 dancer in the final Biennale Arts Competition with his company Troupe Commune Quatre, before the coup d’état in 1990. He then founded and was artistic director of Mali’s nationally respected and award-winning Troupe Komée Diosée, which toured throughout Mali. Seydou now also works extensively in the US, where he teaches Mande dance, music and culture at Wheaton College, Brown University, the Dance Complex (Cambridge, MA), and frequently visits schools throughout New England. Seydou also runs Yeredon, a cross-cultural school in Bamako, which aims to bring a greater knowledge of Malian culture to foreigners while preserving the work of Mali’s most talented artists. His film credits include Steven Spielberg’s Amistad, Mali Djembekan, Street Party in Lafiabougou, and numerous educational films on Malian music, dance and culture. Seydou’s djun-djun playing can also be heard on Mohamed Kalifa Kamara’s Africa Kanben.

Questions? Ideas?

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