Body of Knowledge

Interviews with African and Black Atlantic diaspora rhythm code culture bearers

West Africa

Communities, kingdoms, empires of rhythm – a continuum of culture 

Ewe & Ga rhythms, Sankofa architecture

"Birth we dance, harvest we dance, death, we dance." Traditional rhythms have ritual purpose and a vocabulary of steps. Lucky Lartey embodies rhythm through his Jamestown Collective and avant-garde architectural experiments in Sankofa space-time. We discuss the influence of an Ewe Rhythm (Dzigbordi) on Steve Reich. Reich acknowledges Ewe influence on his website, with regard to his tune, Drumming.

Musicology recognises in blues, jazz and Caribbean clave, tresillo, cinquillo rhythms the gankogui bell of the Ewe, Ga and Akan (Floyd 1995; Washburne 1997).

Mandinka rhythm master

Karamako 'Kako' Kone plays rivers of rhythm from Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso. Kako shares insights from 30 years of call-and-response with dancers – ritual rhythms as intricate as lace, as urgent as Morse Code. Join Kako on a YouTube tour of dance from Conakry, Abidjan and Bamako. 

Caribbean

Tic Toc, Butterfly, Jook – embodied languages of Jamaican Dancehall.
Ancestral rhythms of Orishas in Trinidad & Tobago

orishas & Duption

Ade Ola's island home of Trinidad & Tobago is rich in community arts. Distant drums connected Ade with the Orisha rhythms of his ancestors. He shares vocal percussion (duption) and other innovations that kept ancestral African rhythms alive in Trinidad & Tobago throughout slavery and drum prohibitions. 

Dancehall via Guadeloupe

From Stay Clear to Skank, from Bogle to Jook – Diane Eliot schools us in the colourful language of dancehall steps, and choreographs a crowd to the Kreyol lyrics of 'Debrouya.' Diane is a personal trainer at Diane Fit Coach, and teaches dancehall at Motion Lab Toulouse.

Dancehall & Break via French Guyana

A breaker since his teens, Bibiw Knox learned dancehall codes with battle-champ Steady and other collaborators. Bibiw likes to mix the 'bad' with the 'smooth'. Bibiw teaches at Motion Lab Toulouse.

North America

Jook Joints, Honky Tonks, Ballrooms, Ciphers

Blues: embracing rhythms

Blues dance native and international educator Damon Stone on close embrace, code-switching, idiom styles and more. In his teens, Damon danced an early form of hip hop called West Coast Funk. Damon bridges cultural divides, educating guests of black culture on blues dance values, history and aesthetics. Interview Pt. 3 was origninally recorded by The Blues Room for a Zoom audience.

Blues: bars, balls, boats

Raised in African American, European, and Native American vernacular, Brenda Russell offers a unique perspective on Americana. She's passionate about preserving blues dance idioms through performance, festival curation, international and online workshops.

hip hop & Jazz via paris

Joyss shares his journey from the world of hip hop ciphers to award-winning jazz solos and genre-bending choreographies. This interview with Julien Augier originally aired on the Blablaswing podcast in February 2021, and is linked and translated here with permission. 


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