west africa

West African emigres bring circles of improvisation and tradition to the world.

dance through space-time

drum-dance dialogues

<< Watch Kako improvise with dancers in a jam shot in Toulouse, France, 2021. (3 mins)

Improvisation is a core value of many West African rhythm formations, using call-and-response and circles to transmit dance vocabulary and new ideas.

spiritual synchrony

<< A screen dance mnemonic of a Guinean-accented Balakulandya rhythm originally choreographed for ensemble by Melissa Habibi to live drums by Kako (<2mins). Ghosted duplicate selves are an experimental homage to Atlantic ancestors and to virtual dance communities of the COVID-era present.

Bala = porcupine. Balakulandya translates as ‘Porcupine son of the woman Kulandya’.
Learn more in the interviews with Kako.

a ghanian dance maker

(COMING SOON) Lucky combines traditional Ewe, Gha and contemporary movement in his classes in Sydney, Australia. A video-enriched discussion of how Lucky adapts his choreographies to non-traditional contexts.

Follow Lucky: https://www.luckylartey.com.au

West African indigenous rhythms

A YouTube playlist curated by Kako. Each ethnic group is recognised by
spoken and rhythmic dialects: idioms, within a larger language group.

Soussou : Guinè Fare à Conakry

La danse des femmes, appelée Guinè Fare est une danse traditionnelle du groupe ethnique Sussu en Guinée. Ces rythmes sont joués avec des balafons, tambours boté et djembé.

Contributor and description:
Catherine Veuilleux

Shot: March 2019

Soninke : Mali

Uploaded: 21 Nov 2020


Uploaded: 28 Apr 2017

Contributor: Musique et danse d'ici et d'ailleurs

Akan talking drum demonstration

Talking drums, voiced, Côte d'Ivoire

Uploaded: 19 Feb 2018

Contributor: Tanoh-Moise Arnaud Achiro

Festival de la rue, Bobo Dioulasso,
Burkina Faso.

Uploaded: 28 Apr 2017

Uploaded: 14 Mar 2010

Contributor: Domi Bischops

Guro of Côte d’Ivoire : Zaouli rhythm
(dates from the 1950s)

UNESCO: Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity - 2017

Zaouli is a popular music and dance practised by the Guro communities of Côte d’Ivoire. A homage to feminine beauty, Zaouli is inspired by two masks: the Blou and the Djela. The practice combines sculpture, weaving, music and dance. Zaouli conveys the cultural identity of its bearers and promotes social cohesion and environmental preservation.

URL: https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/01255

© 2015 by Office Ivoirien du patrimoine culturel (OIPC)

Uploaded: 6 Dec 2017


Guro: Zahouli - Manfla

This video has poor sound/img quality. But some great dancing of Zaouli: Côte d'Ivoire

Kako: the musicians follow the dancer, his every move is marked.

Mandinka Marriage Rhythms

Kako: Most of the rhythms we (drummers) play originate here, with the women.

Author's note: accompanied by a gourd rattle and chant, dancers shuffle in a circle – formation reminiscent of a Ring Shout. No need to watch the full video as its very long.

Uploaded: 10 Jun 2017


Lucky and Kako share the stories behind these dances