Jean Paul Gaultier has found inspiration from cultures all over the world, and Africa has played a leading role. In the final weeks of The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, Friday Nights at the de Young pays tribute to these rich influences by bringing in music and dance from cultures that have inspired Gaultier. This evening focuses on Africa, featuring traditional African Manding music and its American offshoots with song and dance in Wilsey Court.
Sunugal West African Ensemble
Ousseynou Kouyate come from a long family line of griots (storytellers of history). The family's lineage starts in Mali and expands to Senegal, West Africa, where he and his twin were raised and learned their family's history through song and dance. Ousseynou has toured all over the globe as a lead dancer with the National Ballet of Senegal and with various famous African artists such as Youssou N'Dour, Ami Koita and Baaba Maal. He has also been teaching beginning- to advanced-level West African dance to children to adults. Ousseynou's flair with spectacular high-impact dance movements and traditional African melody has amazed many audiences.
Mohamed Kouyate (pictured) is a griot, or jeli, from West Africa, and his family has played balafon, or “bala,” for hundreds of years. Mohamed, a native of the village of Boke, in the coastal region of Guinea, belongs to the lineage of Balla Fasseke Kouyate, the famous griot of Soundjata Keita, king of the Mandingos. He is best known for his mastery of bala and is also a powerful dunun and djembe master. He began learning at the age of two at home with his griot family, being trained principally by his grandfather. He grew up steeped in the tradition of bala, which emphasizes the importance of caring for the instrument and playing it with talent. Mohamed lives in the Bay Area and has performed throughout the United States and Europe, touring and teaching his Malinke rhythms through the balaphone, djembe and dunun.
Ben Isaacs received formal training in multiple Instruments during his youth, and has studied West African percussion for the last 24 years. He sees music as a language that has no boundaries. He has performed with Soul Union, Roots of Manding, Malima & Les Harmonies, Makuru, Antioquia, Djali Kounda Kouyate, Ibro Diabate, M'Balou Konte, Albino and many more.
Naby Bangoura, a native of Guinea, West Africa, grew up dancing. He traveled and performed with Les Ballets Merveilles for many years before coming to America. He has taught at the Djoniba School and the Abized School in New York and at the Jewish Community Center of Houston and the Santa Cruz Dance Gallery. Currently he teaches West African Guinean dance at San Francisco’s prestigious ODC dance studio as well as other reputable Bay Area dance studios. Naby’s dance class is accompanied by live African drumming.
Steve Musial, Bay Area guitar virtuoso, has performed with Malima & Les Harmonies, Djali Kounda Kouyate, Makuru, Roots of Manding, Soul Union, Ibro Diabaté, Balla Tounkara, and many more. He places his full heart and soul behind every note expressed.