COVID-19 Updates: Fall Semester

Multi-National Dance Company Baker & Tarpaga Performs at Middlebury October 12, 2019

For Immediate Release
September 19, 2019
Contact: Michaela Davico, (802) 443-3136 or

Multi-National Dance Company Baker & Tarpaga Performs at Middlebury October 12, 2019

Middlebury, VT— Award-winning musician, dancer, and choreographer Olivier Tarpaga returns to Middlebury to share his joyful and deeply personal work, When Birds Refused to Fly. The transnational performance group Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project (BTDP)—based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—shared Declassified Memory Fragment in 2017.

Drawing from Africanist and postmodernist aesthetics and built around the music of Orchestre Super Volta, When Birds Refused to Fly explores the striking contrast between the festive and effervescent atmosphere that reigned in the late 1960s and 1970s in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, and the painful experience of African Americans, who in the same period, were fighting for their civil rights in the United States of America.

Olivier Tarpaga’s multi-instrumentalist father, Richard Tarpaga, was a member of Orchestre Super Volta, legendary in Burkina Faso, whose popular music reflects the confluence of African, Cuban, and European or American styles, incorporating Congolese rumba, French chanson, and American rhythm and blues.

The ensemble of Ouagadougou-based performers embody this contemporary dance theatre project exploring a generational transformation both cultural and geographic, examining what it is to build up and break down in the name of change.

For excerpts, see Esther Baker-Tarpaga’s trailer:

About Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project

Lester Horton Award-winning dance company BTDP was founded in 2004 by Esther Baker-Tarpaga and Olivier Tarpaga, and is currently based in Philadelphia, PA and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. BTDP’s members are border-crossing ethno-choreographers investigating the beauty and dissonance of the human condition. They have performed throughout the US, at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Los Angeles; the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in Pittsburgh; BAAD in the Bronx; at Cornell and Denison Universities; on the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival’s Inside/Out stage; at Center Stage in Santa Barbara; and the King Arts Complex in Ohio. Internationally, BTDP has appeared at countless prestigious venues including the Bali Spirit Festival; Dance Bridge International in Tokyo; Natanda International Dance Festival in Sri Lanka; Tamadi Art Festival in France; Morocco’s Action Danse; Burkina Faso’s Dialogue De Corps; Maitisong Festival in Botswana; Abok I Ngoma Festival in Cameroon; and at the French Cultural Center of Senegal. Tarpaga is currently a lecturer at the Lewis Center for the Arts and director of the African Music Ensemble at Princeton University.

The presentation of When Birds Refused to Fly is made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Performance Details

Baker & Tarpaga will perform on Saturday, October 12, 2019, at 7:30 P.M. at Mahaney Arts Center Dance Theatre. The Mahaney Center is located at 72 Porter Field Road in Middlebury. Free parking is available curbside on Route 30 or in the Center for the Arts parking lot, in rows marked faculty/staff/visitors. Tickets: $15 Public/$12 Midd ID holders/$8 Youth/$6 Midd students; on sale September 23. Tickets are available at the Middlebury College box office at 802-443-MIDD (6433) or


Images by Géry Barbot

Program in Dance

Mahaney Center for the Arts
72 Porter Field Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753