Thiossane Africa Senegalese Dance Company
BALLET THIOSSANE AFRICA SENEGALESE DANCE COMPANY
NATIONAL/ETHNIC IDENTITY: Senegal, West Africa
African dance is inextricably connected to rhythm; it is considered a force of life as essential as the breath. Therefore, the drum takes on significant importance in Africa. Sabar are the royal drums of Senegal and are believed to have been handed down to humans by gods. Unique to the Senegambia region, the Wolof and Serer people play them for festivals and special celebrations such as, births, weddings and healing rituals. Dancing is usually a part of these ecstatic drumming events. There were also sabar drumming rituals that were done for seven days to help a person heal from mental illness.
Master teacher N'Deye Gueye is an accomplished dancer of the sabar and has studied and danced with many of Senegal's most prominent dance companies. Although members have danced in other African dance companies over many years, Ballet Thiossane formed itself in 2003 to perpetuate the dances specifically of Senegal.
TITLE OF DANCES: Kaolack, Thie
In the 2004 Festival, Thiossane Africa performs two sabar dances. Kaolack is named after the rhythm and dance of this important region of Senegal, while Thie Bou Dienne is named for the national dish of fish and rice. Only the best dancers dare try these difficult fast-paced competitions. The flowing robes worn, known as grande bou bou, are the traditional dress of present-day Senegal. A special fabric is used in these sabar dances–one normally worn by great dignitaries and people of high social status.