African traditions examined

Drum, dance classes offer cultural insight

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— After attending an African Dance and Drum Festival in Boulder three weeks ago, Mouminatou Camara and Mohamed Camara decided to detour to Steamboat Springs for a one-evening workshop.

Robin Getter, director of the School of Rhythm and Dance in Steamboat, said having this master dancer and drummer come to Steamboat creates a special evening for all of those interested in African dancing and drumming.

"Drumming and dance is not separate to people in Africa, it's the same thing," Getter said.

The drumming and dance classes are $10 each, for all levels of dancers ages 10 and up.

Getter said Mouminatou was wondering where all the children were at the Boulder festival.

"'We need to teach the children to respect their mother and father.' They always give little messages like that," Getter said.

Studio II of the George P. Sauer Human Services Center, also known as the old junior high school, may be ringing with pounds and screams of delight Tuesday, but Getter said not to be alarmed; it's just people expressing themselves in an explosive and creative manner.

The drum class begins at 5:30 p.m. and the dance class begins at about 6:45 p.m. People have the opportunity to partake in one class or both.

"It's amazing to see the interrelationships working together the dynamics and the explosive energy," Getter said.

Getter said getting experience from the source always is the best way to learn.

Mouminatou comes from Les Ballets Africans and Mohamed comes from Percussions du Guinee where they tour every two years while living in New York.

Getter said Mouminatou and Mohamed come from the same tribe or family Griot in Guinea, where dance, music and song are bred into the children from birth.

"It's how traditions are passed down. She learned dance when she was in her mother's (womb)," Getter said. "To be a student, you get the feeling of the true African experience."

Getter convinced the two masters to come to Steamboat after the African Drum and Dance Festival in Boulder three weeks ago. Getter also has taken classes from Mouminatou in New York City.

Mouminatou was the principal dancer at Les Ballets Africans for more than 10 years. Other experience includes Les Ballets Djollba, Army Ballet and other Guinean dance companies.

Mohamed began his musical training in the village of Benna Mousaya, mastering the Bote drum and the Baba bells. He also mastered Djembe and Djun Djun drumming in other areas of Guinea.

Fara, another master drummer related to Mouminatou, will be at Tuesday night's workshop but will not be teaching. Instead, he is presenting a three-day workshop Sept. 4-6 to teach drumming and dance.

Getter has been teaching African dance classes at Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus for the past 20 years and continually tries to sponsor special guest artists.

Getter, also president of Steamboat Dance Theatre, said Art in the Park is the dance class' largest show.

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