Lamine Thiam speaks with Carolyn Webb about being born in Senegal in 1972; his family life as a child in Dakar; first noticing dance at the age of five; the cultural traditions involving dance and music including baptisms, weddings, and family gatherings; the naming ceremony (baptism) being an all day party; being raised by his parents in separate homes; being encouraged by his brother, a professional dancer; studying at the Manhattan Dance School at age 15; how he was taught to be a professional dancer, learning the Sabar, and the difference between the Sabar dance at school for entertainment and in ceremonies; how dancing and drumming combine into one and the relationship between them; drums and drumming conversations; singing the song on his answering machine and how singing is a big part of the African dance tradition; discussion of a circumcision ceremony and the dances accompanying this ceremony; being from a family of Griots (West African historians/storytellers); a typical day at dance rehearsal as a 15 year old at the Manhattan Dance School and the Conservatory [Conservatoire National d'Arte Dramatique du Sénégal]; being in a professional dance company at the age of 18 and dancing with various companies; moving to the United States in 1993 and getting married; finding African Dance in upstate New York where he taught; taking class and meeting Djoniba [Mouflet] at Fareta; teaching at Fareta, Danspace, and Djoniba Dance and Drum Centre; explaining the difference between African drumming and dancing rhythms (Sabar, Djembe, and Kutiro); how the body is used in African dance, and the difference between ballet and African dance; the importance of dancing for health and well-being; Thiam inviting interested people to take one of his African dance Kumbe classes; creating a dance company in 1994 named Bousso African Dance and Drum Ensemble; acting in the movie Amistad and auditioning with Debbie Allen; comparing dancers from Africa to dancers from the U.S.; why he left New York; the ideal weather conditions for him; how difficult it is to be a dancer; how to be a good dancer; and his wish for preserving African Dance.
Interview with Lamine Thiam
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