Center for the Arts Welcomes Song and Dance Ensemble of West Africa

Posted: October 7, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Song and Dance Ensemble of West Africa brings a spectacular array of singers, dancers and musicians to the Concert Hall stage at Mason’s Center for the Arts on Friday, Oct. 10, at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Oct.11, at 8 p.m.

A pre-performance discussion, free to ticket holders, begins 45 minutes prior to each performance on the Center’s Grand Tier III.

The ensemble celebrates the rich musical, dance and folkloric traditions of a diverse region that includes Togo, Senegal, Guinea, Ghana, Benin, The Ivory Coast and Mauritania.

The group was formed in 1970 under the support of the government’s programs to revive folkloric music by fostering the arts and culture of indigenous people.

What has helped the ensemble continue its success throughout the years is its unique blending of traditional West African melodies and musical styles, with just a touch of Western influence.

“Now it’s the young who have come with new inspiration for the music,” Artistic Director Bamba Dembelé says. “We used to always play praise songs and ballads. Now we leave out the praise song and add music that makes people move.”

The ensemble’s music now combines various African musical styles, Congolese soukous blending with West African Manding and reggae fusing with Latin.

Tickets are $46, $38 and $23; tickets for children 12 and under are half price. Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit

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