Baker Tarpaga Dance Project; 09/29-30/2017

Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project
Friday, September 29, 2017 - 8:00pm
Saturday, September 30, 2017 - 8:00pm
Mahaney Center for the Arts, Dance Theatre

The transnational performance group Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project (BTDP), based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and Philadelphia, draws from Africanist and postmodernist aesthetics. BTDP presents Declassified Memory Fragment, a dance theatre work with live music, inspired by memory, history, and images of the political and cultural realities currently affecting the continent of Africa. Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project is a recipient of the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project Touring Award, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon FoundationTickets: $22 General public/16 Midd ID holders/6 Midd students (See related event September 26.) 

For more information, visit go/declassified.

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Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project show reel



Declassified Memory Fragment is a 70-minute dance theater work with live music inspired by ideas and themes around memory, history, and images of some of the political and cultural realities affecting the continent of Africa. The work was created as an open letter on African society—its lifestyles, cultures, beauty, complexities, and politics. Declassified refers to living in a society where aspects of everyday life are subjected to restrictions and cultural expectations of secrecy and privacy, even within the family. The act of declassifying is a process of revealing, exposing what is hidden from view and obscured, not spoken.

Declassified Memory Fragment is inspired by and created as a response to political situations in different African countries (especially Kenya, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, and Burkina Faso), the unpredictable circulation of power and the resulting tension, destabilization, and explosive climax that occurs, often without dismantling the illusion of democracy. The work both caustically and humorously stages a two-tier society where craving for power simultaneously creates and unravels friendships, but brotherhood prevails.

Direction and Choreography: Olivier Tarpaga

Performance and Movement Contribution: Ousséni Dabaré, Aziz Dermé, Jérôme Kaboré, Adonis Nébié, Olivier Tarpaga

Music Concept and Composition: Olivier Tarpaga in collaboration with Dafra Kura Band

Live Music and Performance: Flatié Dembelé, Boubacar Djiga, Daouda Guindo, Olivier Tarpaga

Lighting Design: Cyril Givort Artistic Advisor and Dramaturg: Esther Baker-Tarpaga

Set Concept: Olivier Tarpaga and Sada Dao

Set Design: Face-O-Sceno

Props Design: Sahab Koanda

Costume Design: Olivier Tarpaga

Company Administrator (Burkina Faso): Francois Bouda

Production: Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project

Co-Production: Nomad Express International Multi-Arts Festival and Dialogue De Corps International Festival (Burkina Faso), Kelly Strayhorn Theatre, Denison University, Kenyon College, Harlem Stage, Grinnell College, Middlebury College, Princeton University, and Philadelphia Fringe Arts.

This work was developed in residence and premiered at the Kelly Strayhorn Theatre in Pittsburgh, PA. Additional residencies support: Vail Series, Denison University; the Department of Dance, Drama and Film, Kenyon College; and the Center for Choreography Development "CDC La Termitiere," Burkina Faso. Special Thanks to Ahmed Soura for his contribution. Thank you: Janera Salomon, Marya Wethers, Seydou Boro, Bienvenue Bazié, Lassane Ouédraogo and Espace Napam Beogo, Balinda Craiq-Quijada, Sandra Mathern-Smith, and Bernice Lee.


Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project
Lester Horton Award-winning Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project is a transnational performance company founded in 2004 by Esther Baker-Tarpaga and Olivier Tarpaga. BTDP is currently based in Philadelphia, and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. BTDP are border crossing ethno-choreographers investigating the beauty and dissonance of the human condition. Their work has been performed at REDCAT, Highways, and the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, Los Angeles; Kelly Strayhorn Theater, Pittsburgh; BAAD, Bronx; Bali Spirit Festival and Dance Bridge International, Tokyo; VSA N4th New Mexico; Cornell College; Denison University; Jacob's Pillow Inside Out; Natanda International Dance Festival, Sri Lanka; In-Out Dance Festival, Bobo Dioulasso; Tamadi'Art Festival, France; Action Danse Festival, Morocco; Center Stage, Santa Barbara; The King Arts Complex, Ohio; Dialogue De Corps, Burkina Faso; The Maitisong Festival, Botswana; Abok I Ngoma Festival, Cameroon; and The French Cultural Center, Senegal.

Olivier Tarpaga is a Lester Horton Award-winning dancer–choreographer and musician, a dance lecturer at the Lewis Center for the Arts, and a music lecturer for Princeton University's Department of Music. Tarpaga is the founder and artistic director of the internationally acclaimed Dafra Drum and Dafra Kura Band and co-founder of the Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project. He danced with David Rousseve/ REALITY from 2006 to 2010, when he was also a State Department Art Envoy in South Africa, Botswana, Burkina Faso, and Sri Lanka. Commissions and posts include: Wind of Nomads (2017) for Malaysia's internationally renowned HANDS percussion; RESIST, RESURGE: Traces of Hope (2015) for MAYA dance theater of Singapore; The way of sands (2012) for the Temple of Fine Arts in Perth, Austrailia, Visage for Zig Zag Ballet at the Rich Forum Stanford Center for the Arts in Connecticut (2008), and an appointment to the Ministry of Culture of Niger to train and mentor Abdallah Dance Company and serve as an artistic advisor during the making of Une pour trois for the Francophonie games in Nice, France (2013). Tarpaga has performed and recorded with celebrity rock star POE at Capitol Records in Hollywood. In 2008, he was invited to re-interpret Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with West African instruments for a sold-out concert with British singer Billy Bragg and numerous guests at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, California. Tarpaga is a recipient of numerous major grants including NEFA's National Dance Project (NDP) award, the Suitcase Fund from New York Live Arts, a Chime Mentorship Fellowship with David Rousseve as his mentor, the Durfee Foundation ARC, and grants from the Ohio Arts Council and the Flourish Foundation. He danced with David Rousseve/REALITY from 2006 – 2010. Tarpaga is the artistic director of the Nomad Express International Multi-Arts Festival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and has performed and taught dance in fifty countries throughout Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania.

Esther Baker-Tarpaga is a choreographer and performance artist, and a Grant Wood Visiting Artist at the University of Iowa Department of Dance. Her research is on visibility, invisibility, race, gender, and motherhood. As a recent Headlands Artist in Residence, she collaborated with Moroccan choreographer, Hind Benali. She is an Associate of Guillermo Gomez-Pena La Pocha Nostra and recently collaborated on a new project at Galeria de la Raza, San Francisco. She toured with the David Rousseve/REALITY "Saudade" Project and Dafra West African Dance and Drum. She is co-artistic director of Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project, a transnational dance theatre company founded in 2004 with Olivier Tarpaga. She co-directs a dance workshop in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and has taught at Ohio State University's Department of Dance, Rio Hondo Community College, and Cypress Community College. She received her MFA and MA in Dance at UCLA's Department of World Arts and Cultures and her BA at Bowdoin College. She curates a video blog site "Shifting Traces: Contemporary Dance and Technology In and Outside of Africa," featuring performance and interviews with African choreographers, and has forthcoming publications in Live Arts Almanac and Routldege Encyclopedia of Modernism. Baker-Tarpaga recently was invited through the US State Department to teach and lecture at KINANI Contemporary Dance Festival in Mozambique and Ateliers Aex-Corps in Senegal. From 2006–2008 she was a US State Department Cultural Envoy invited to teach contemporary dance in Burkina Faso, South Africa, Botswana, and Guinea. From 2000– 2005 she collaborated with Senegal-based dancers, musicians, and rappers, notably Andreya Ouamba, Fatou Cisse, Djibril Diallo, Bertrand Saki, Keyti, Sen Kumpe, and Fatim. She co-produced United Nations of Hip Hop, which screened at AFI International and NYC Pan African Film Festival, and recently created Free to Be You and Me with her daughter for The Dances Made to Order lm series. She is the recipient of numerous grants including the New York Live Arts Suitcase Fund, Battelle Endowment for Technology and Human Affairs, Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, Johnstone Fund for New Music, Durfee, Javits Fellowship, Coca-Cola Critical Difference for Women, and UCIRA grant.

Nebie Adonis is a dancer from Burkina Faso. He is well recognized for his energetic, fluid, and fast movement style. Adonis joined the late Soulemane Porgo's Teguere Danse Company in 2001, and has since been principal dancer and co-choreographer of the company. Internationally renowned Burkina Faso choreographer Irène Tassembédo took Adonis under her wing in 2004. With Company Irène Tassembédo, he has performed in Tassembedo's works Souffles, Carmen, Sacre Du Tempo, and Allah Garibou. Adonis has performed in many countries in Africa and Europe, and participated in several intensive workshops directed by Salia Sanou, Seydou Boro, Vincent Montsoe, Opiyo Okach, Gregory Makoma, Vim Vanderkebus, Nora Chipaumire, and Patrick Acogny. Adonis was among the best African dancers to be selected by Germaine Acogny to participate in dance workshops at the world renown Ecole Des Sables, in Senegal, to learn and teach the Acogny dance technique. He has danced around the world for and with such well known choreographers as Serge-Aimé Coulibaly, Vera Sander, Nathalie Veuille, and Kalpana Raghuraman. Since 2011, Adonis has performed in kokhuma 7 degré sud—a dance project created by Serge-Aimé Coulibaly for Faso danse theatre. In 2012, after performing in A Suivrem—a dance work created by the Teguere Dance Company and selected for the 8th Concours Des Rencontres Choregraphique Danse l'Afrique Danse—Adonis went to Gomera, in the Canary Islands, and El Graner, in Barcelona, to create the dance solo Looser. Looser was performed for the first time in Ouagadougou in December 2012 at the festival Dialogues De Corps. Adonis' most recent dance project, Me-Tisser, was performed in May 2014 at the amphitheater of Lyon Opera, France. Adonis is set to tour the United States in September 2017 with Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project. He has been dancing in Olivier Tarpaga's Declassified Memory Fragment since 2011.

Ousseni Dabare was born in Burkina Faso, and began his dance career studying West African Traditional Dance with Alassane Congo. His passion for African contemporary dance grew while dancing for Congo Bâ Téria; a dance company created by Souleymane Badolo. From 2009 to 2013, he participated in the workshop Je Danse Donc je Suis organized by CDC La Termitière in Ouagadougou—directed by Salia Sanou and Seydou Boro. At this workshop, Dabare met well known choreographers from Africa and Europe, such as Andréya Ouamba, Serge-Aimé Coulibaly, Christian Rizzo, Anne Lopez, and Irène Tassembédo. Dabare also performed in many dance creations directed by Salia Sanou and Bienvenue Bazié. From 2008 to 2010, Dabare participated in dance projects across Africa created by Hélène Lawson, Lebeau Boumpoutou, and Boukson Sére. As a dancer, Dabare has performed for the opening ceremonies of the FESPACO (Pan African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou). Dabare joined the Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project in 2011. He has toured in Europe with the French dance company Herman Diephuis in Objet Principal Du Voyage.

Aziz Dermé was born in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in a family of sculptors and bronze artists. He is a dancer/comedian and a recipient of the 2010-2012 Je Danse Donc Je Suis scholarship at the Center of Choreography Development La Termitère under the artistic direction of Salia Sanou and Seydou Boro in Ouagadougou. During the three-year intensive, he trained with internationally-acclaimed artists such as Salia Sanou, Seydou Boro, Irène Tassembedo, Mathilde Monnier, Monique Barbarroux, Brigitte Hyon, Christian Rizzo, Hermann Diephius, Germana Civera, Kettly Noel, Olivier Tarpaga, Esther Baker-Tarpaga, Martin Kravits, Khaleah London, Germaine Acogny, Andrea Ouamba, Carlo Locatelli, Marina Rocco, and Sylvia Bagio. He has toured internationally as a dancer in Belgian choreographer Ebale Zam's collaboration with Salia Sanou, Constellation. He is also a dancer in Olivier Tarpaga's latest work, Declassified Memory Fragment, with Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project. Dermé is currently dancing in a new work by internationally-acclaimed choreographer Souleymane Badolo. Dermé started his first steps in theatre at age 10 in elementary school, where he represented his school at national theatre and poetry competitions. His remarkable performances opened up major opportunities and he was selected as an actor and dancer for Le Bourgeon du Burkina under the artistic director of award winning writer and government official Theodore L. Kafando. He is currently a dance professor at the American International School in Ouagadougou, a resident choreographer for Le Bourgeon du Burkina and was recently one of the assistants for Seydou Boro's major work for 200 dancers performed for the opening and closing ceremony of the Pan African Film and Television Festival (FESPACO) in Ouagadougou. His dance experience and style grew from his interest and approach to certain African dance techniques, and contemporary techniques such as those by Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, and Pina Bausch.

Cyril Givort acted in plays and movies and worked as an assistant director for five years after completing drama studies in Paris. He also worked as the administrator for a boat theater called "La Mare au diable." In the meantime, he took lighting design and technical administration classes, and then he worked at La Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris as technical manager for concerts, exhibitions, JVC jazz festivals, and dance performances, and as the technical director for the Théâtre du Gymnase in Massillia, France. In addition to designing the lighting for many artistic companies in France, he worked as technical manager for the Avignon Festival for 10 years and as technical director in many productions with Kristof Warlikowsky, and Krystian Lupa in Warsaw, Poland; with Wajdi Mouawad in France and Canada; and for movie productions in Mumbai, India. For the past 10 years, he has worked in Africa as a lighting designer and technical director for choreographers including Andréya Ouamba, Kettly Noël, Florent Mahoukou, Kof Koko, and Opiyo Okach. He was also in charge of biannual Dance l'Afrique Danse festival in Bamako, Mali, and other dance and music festivals in Mali and Johannesburg, South Africa.

Wendinmi Jerome Kaboré is a dancer, choreographer, actor, and the founder/artistic director of Wendinmi Dance Company. He is now based in Paris and his solo, Sook Ba, is touring western Europe and West Africa. He is a member of world renown choreographer Salia Sanou's Mouvements Perpétuels contemporary dance company based in Montpellier, France. Kaboré has performed with Salia Sanou at Montpellier Danse, le Tarmac in Paris, Scene Nationale de Narbonne, Festival D'avignon, and multiple cities and venues across France, Germany, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Senegal. He was a dancer-actor in Irène Tassembedo's musical Carmen Falinga Awa, and has toured with her company internationally. Kaboré's acting career took a turn in 2003 when asked to play the role of Pélé in award winning director Dani Kouyaté's Ouaga Saga. His remarkable performance brought him several acting opportunities, such as a role in La nuit de la vérité by director Fanta Nacro. Kaboré's dance technique varies from traditional West African to contemporary, popular commercial dance forms, and hip hop. Celebrated French hip hop choreographer Eric Mezino selected him to work and tour France with his company E. GO. He was also a dancer in Carine Kermin and Vincent Gilois's Les Gens de Pluie. In 2009, he was one of the few selected emerging African dancers to get the European Union-supported Chrysalides choreography scholarship at Ecoles des Sables in Senegal. Kaboré regularly teaches African dance, Afro-contemporary, and hip hop in France, at festivals, and events around Europe and Africa. He has danced and collaborated with internationally-acclaimed choreographers such as Alasane Congo, Salia Sanou, Seydou Boro, Souleymane Badolo, and Olivier Tarpaga. Kaboré has danced in Declassified Memory Fragment since 2011.

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