dancing, sketching and sweating - it was over 90 degrees every day !
I had traveled to Guinea ten years before in 2003
with my dance teachers Pam and Mimo Camara.
Mimo had been a principal dancer for twenty years with Les Ballets Africains -
the National Dance Ensemble of Guinea - which toured the world.
The teachers we would be studying with now were old friends of Mimo
and longtime dancers with the Ballet.
We stayed in a house on the edge of Conakry, the capital.
It was walled and gated. Because of the intensity of the city,
and the political protests going on intermittently,
we sometimes stayed in the compound all day -
dance teachers and friends coming to us.
So the sketchbook begins with what was close at hand in our enclosed world,
surrounded by the sound of roosters crowing, the call to prayer,
footsteps and soft voices passing by beyond the gate-
here is what I saw within these walls . . .
Here is the constellation of Mimo's family and friends
that I came to know and love -
The dances we were learning were complex,
yet I was energized by them, my body felt light and lithe.
I created a pictographic language to help me remember the steps.
Here is the Harvest Dance done holding the round flat baskets used for cleaning rice.
I mapped which areas of Guinea the dances we were learning came from . . .
And here is a clip of our teachers -
Djeli Kany, Mayeni and Djeli Guinee singing to us . . .
More to come !