Guinea-Style Dance Workshop

Guinea-Style Dance Workshop

Mohamed Diaby begins each dance workshop with a 30 minute warm-up that introduces students to some basic Guinean movement vocabulary. This is a chance for students to become aware of their bodies and how they move; it is a chance to wonder why these movements seem unusual; it is a chance to wonder why Guinea-style movement is not encouraged in many traditions of the Western world; and it is a chance to move freely and have fun. 

Once students are warmed up and happy, Mohamed introduces between 4 and 8 steps from a specific Guinean dance. He will name the dance and explain why it is traditionally danced, which ethnic group created it, and where it originated geographically speaking (which village or region). 

A key to Guinea-style African dance is understanding "the break". Mohamed always explains that in Guinea "we don't count 5-6-7-8" to cue the dancers. Instead Mohamed will train students to understand and respond to the break. The break is a musical phrase used as a signal by the lead drummer. It cues musicians and dancers. It tells them when to start, stop, or change what they are doing. Each dance step starts and ends with a break.

Mohamed's warm-up is typically danced to a recorded soundtrack and Mohamed gives the break with his voice during this exercise. When Mohamed moves on to give instruction for specific dance steps, he will do so without any music. Once the steps are demonstrated for his students, and they've practiced them a bit, Mohamed will pick up his drum and provide a tailored, energetic accompaniment to the students' dancing. He will cue them with an actual break on the drum and transition seamlessly into the accompanying rhythm for that dance. 

"Marking the dance" is a specialized skill that uses the djembe's various pitches and rhythms to reflect and accentuate the dancer's movement. It is also a way to give added confidence to weaker dancers, since a drummer marking the dance will reinforce their movements with his music. So, while Mohamed stops demonstrating the dance when he picks up his drum, he is still instructing, helping, and encouraging his students with his music by marking the dance. 

Students will be uplifted and motivated by the chance to dance to live drumming. It is said that in African dance, the music "carries" the dancer. Students will experience this synergy between the music and the dance because, during his workshops, Mohamed can provide both. 

During his workshops, Mohamed starts with the very basics and does not assume prior experience in African dance. Given an advanced group of students, though, he will raise the bar to keep everyone involved and challenged by this rich art form.


    Grade Level: 6 - 12, Adult, Family, Teacher

    Audience Limit: 30


    Workshop cost (90 minutes or less): $300.00

    Performance cost (single): $870.00
    Workshop cost (90 minutes or less): $300.00
    Performance cost (back to back): $1135.00