West African dance and drum

Internationally acclaimed teacher, drummer and choreographer of traditional and contemporary West African Dance, Mabiba Baegne, will come to Northern Arizona  to teach three drum and dance workshops.  

This is the rare opportunity to experience and learn from an authentic elder and wise teacher.

She will offer classes in Cottonwood Saturday, Aug. 27, from noon to 1:30 p.m. (dance) and (drum) 2-3:30 p.m.

The classes will be offered at the Old Town Center for the Arts, 633 N 5th St., Cottonwood, AZ 86326  (on the north side of Main Street, between 5th and 6th Streets).

Even if you have never done African Dancing and Drumming before, Mabiba is revered as a forgiving, sweet  and light-hearted teacher for first-timers, and challenging-yet-supportive mentor for more experienced students. 

Both dance classes are taught to the authentic West African beats of experienced LIVE drummers, courtesy of Arizona Dunun Ensemble, who will host Mabiba's  trip here. 

Mabiba Baegne was born in Brazzaville in the Congo and was initiated into dance by her grandparents when she was 8 years old.

She joined the National Ballet of the Congo with Bolle Bantu. She worked as artistic director, choreographer and taught dancing, drumming and singing plus performed with children (from kindergarten through university level) and also with adults.

Mabiba has worked under the tutelage of Grand Master Djembe players Famoudou Konate and Mamady Keita. Mabiba has toured and performed with both djembe players. She teamed with Mamady in the famous Zig Zag School of African dancing and drumming in Belgium.

As a singer she has toured with Salif Keita, Mamady Keita, and Samba Ngo. She appeared on television and radio programs singing with well-known French singer, France Gall. She is a featured singer on Mamady's first CD ("Wassolon") and was a member of Sewa Kan. For many years, Mabiba has been in high demand as a dance and drumming teacher throughout the United States.

In the United States, Mabiba has been instrumental in teaching Central and West African dancing and singing.

As well as the first woman to teach traditional West African (Guinea) dununs in the U.S. She was the first woman to produce a dunun training tape here. She has given Master classes at Stanford, San Francisco State, Oregon State, University of Washington (Seattle), UC Santa Cruz, Mills College (Oakland), etc.

Among her U.S. performances was her role as "Djinga (the King Queen of Angola)" at Brooklyn Academic of Music, in Minneapolis, MN, at the Shakespeare Center in Washington, DC and at Mills College (Oakland).

She has been living and teaching in Tempe for several years now. These workshops in Cottonwood and Flagstaff will be her final acts before leaving Arizona for good.  On Sunday, Aug. 28, she will depart Tempe to move to Reno, Nev., in order to be closer to her family.

The Arizona Dunun Ensemble is a musical group comprised of players from Sedona, Cornville, Cottonwood, Prescott, and Flagstaff, Arizona, and specializes in West African percussion. The Ensemble is dedicated to learning traditional rhythms and songs which accompany the Djembe, or "Jebe Bara," which means Drum of Unity. They strive to share this music with others as accurately and as skill -- fully as possible and have a lot of fun making a big, joyful noise in the process.

Over the past two decades, the Djembe has become a hugely popular instrument all over the world, and in the United States it is often played without regard for African technique, tradition, and culture.

Out of respect, the Arizona Dunun Ensemble believes these aspects should be remembered when playing this instrument and they strive to keep the Djembe in its traditional musical context, hence the name Arizona Dunun Ensemble.

In West Africa, the Djembe is almost always accompanied by one or more Dunun, a two-headed cylindrical drum played with a stick. The Dunun is vital to Djembe music! It is the engine that provides the "bass" notes and the melody. Dunun is pronounced "due noon." For more information visit: www.azdunun.org.

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