Critically acclaimed New York City African dance troupe to perform at Syracuse University March 19
Critically acclaimed New York City African dance troupe to perform at Syracuse University March 19March 01, 2003Judy Holmesjlholmes@syr.edu
New York City-based Sidiki Conde and his West African music and dance ensemble Les Merveilles des Guinee will perform at 8 p.m. March 19 in the Rose and Jules R. Setnor Auditorium in Syracuse University’s Crouse College. The concert, part of the Setnor Tuesday Night Concert Series and the 2002 Syracuse Symposium “Exploring Beauty,” is free and open to the public, although tickets are required. The free tickets can be obtained by calling the Schine Student Center box office at 443-4517.
The Les Merveilles des Guinee event is also being co-sponsored by SU’s Arts Adventure Program, and the departments of French and African-American Studies in The College of Arts and Sciences.
“Music from West Africa is a vibrant combination of music and dance,” says Eileen Strempel, assistant professor in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, which sponsors the Setnor concert series. “In Western music, these two art forms are often separated into different disciplines. However, in Africa the artists are all expected to be accomplished singers, dancers and drummers. In flamboyantly colored costumes, the performers become blurs of vibrant hues as drummers and dancers become one and the same. This will be an exciting, whirling, dynamic evening not to be missed.”
Paralyzed from the waist down, when he was 14 years old, Conde never lost sight of his desire to dance. A native of the West African country of Guinea, he got his first break after he and his friends conned their way into a performance of the national dance theater in Kankan by pretending that Conde was one of the local artists billed to open the main event. After his friends carried Conde to the front of the hall, one of the show’s producers asked him to perform. Conde said yes and gave a dazzling performance of a traditional dance on his hands that included body rolls.
A short time later, in 1986, Conde founded Message de Espior (The Message of Hope), a music and dance ensemble with other artists with disabilities whom he met in the capital city of Conakry. The group toured West Africa, giving performances and working to change perceptions of people with disabilities. He also had a weekly song and dance television program in Guinea.
Conde’s artistry and vision gained him widespread recognition, and he was invited to join premier African music and dance ensembles, including the prestigious Les Merveilles de Guinea in 1987 where he quickly learned the group’s music and dance repertoire. Conde was soon dancing as a soloist and became the group’s ballet rehearsal master. Conde and Les Merveilles de Guinee held their United States premier performance in 1998 in New York City’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Conde remained in New York City, and he and his company, Tokounou, perform and teach West African traditional music and dance across the United States. Conde is also an artist-in-residence in several New York City schools, one of which exclusively serves children with disabilities.
Conde is a volunteer for the National Dance Institute’s children’s mixed ability dance program and for the Brooklyn Hospital Center’s Visiting Artist Program. He is a member of World TEAM (The Exceptional Athlete Matters) Sports’ Speakers Bureau. In May 2000, Conde handcycled across the United States for 22 days as part of World TEAM Sports’ Face of America athletic and humanitarian event.
The Syracuse Symposium is an annual University-wide intellectual and creative festival hosted by The College of Arts and Sciences in collaboration with schools and colleges from across the University. The opportunities provided by the symposium are consistent with initiatives in the University’s Academic Plan directed at expanding opportunities for multidisciplinary intellectual discourse for students.