Abene African Dance & Drum Festival returns to Brattleboro

BRATTLEBORO — African Dance Vermont and the Arts Council of Windham County present the ninth annual Abene African Dance and Drum Festival, Aug. 23-25, at the (air-conditioned) Stone Church, 210 Main St.

Caro Diallo, Senegalese choreographer and lead dancer of the dance troupe Black Soofa, is returning to town for the festival. Advance materials for the event note he has been the primary teacher and inspiration for Abene, which was named for his village in southern Senegal, West Africa and means “place where good is encountered.”

A master teacher, dancer, and choreographer, Diallo has performed and taught throughout West Africa, the United States, and Europe. During the festival weekend, he will teach African dance classes for all levels. Those who would like to come and simply watch the dance classes are welcome to do so without charge, organizers say.

Pape N'Diaye of Senegal and Cambridge, Mass., will return this year as a special guest teacher. N'Diaye is a versatile, energetic singer, dancer, percussionist, and choreographer who performs and teaches both traditional and contemporary African music and dance.

The dance classes will be accompanied by the live drumming of Namory Keita, Jay Stanley, and friends.

Keita will teach West African drumming on Saturday and Sunday. He is an accomplished Guinean musician who has performed and taught worldwide and played on several recordings.

Djembe drums will be provided for students who need them.

The Saturday evening lineup:

6 p.m. - Malian meal by Dienba Macalou (of Brattleboro Farmers' Market fame).

7 p.m. - Screening of the new documentary film, “Sahel Calling,” about human rights, music, and hope raising the voice of the silenced in Mali, West Africa.

8 p.m. - African-inspired music with Derrik Jordan, Julian Gerstin, and Tony Vacca, and a vibrant, colorful, performance of West African music and dance featuring Diallo, N'Diaye, and Keita, plus other festival dancers and drummers.

African wares will be sold throughout the festival.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates