LA JUNTA — In celebration of Black History Month, Otero Junior College will be hosting Kissidugu, a West African Drum and Dance ensemble on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. in the Ed Stafford Theatre. The group will be performing in traditional costumes a variety of numbers which will include vocals, dance, drums and dialog.
The Kissidugu troupe is made up of students from the University of Colorado, Boulder’s music and dance program who have earned their master of fine arts degrees. The group is under the direction of Fara Tolno.
Kissidugu is not only a drum and dance group they are also humanitarians, with a portion of their proceeds going to support education. Their objective is to build a School of Music, Dance and Education in Guinea, West Africa.
“The popularity of West African music and its influence on the western world has offered many African musicians and dancers an amazing opportunity to move and teach abroad,” said Fara Tolno, director of Kissidugu. “Unfortunately, this has created a situation where many of Guinea’s finest teachers leave Guinea permanently, taking with them the history, roots and foundations of this important part of their culture,” he said.
Tolno explained that Kissidugu’s vision for their school is to create a place where master drummers and dancers can support their families without having to leave Guinea, keeping the knowledge of the traditional music and dance alive and thriving for generations to come.
“The school will provide the opportunity for work, the chance to study, and a space for local educators to teach. It is our hope the school will provide a consistent way for international students to travel to, experience, and study the rich culture of West Africa. Most importantly, the school can provide scholarships and education opportunities to the youth of Guinea,” he explained.
He said the long-term goal is for the school to double as a community center, providing a space to host community workshops on health care, AIDS awareness and prevention, sustainable living and smart environmental development practices.
Kissidugu will be performing an outreach program for area students at 12:45 p.m. on Feb. 22 in the Ed Stafford Theatre. Students will have the opportunity to watch the dances of West Africa, hear the music, drums and learn the meaning of each song that is performed. Kissidugu will be an interactive opportunity for students as they will be encouraged to asked questions and be inquisitive.
The public performance concert will be Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 7:00 p.m. in the Ed Stafford Theatre.
“This colorful and exciting concert will give attendees an uplifting experience. The music is vibrant and moving.” said Debbie Phillips, coordinator of campus and community events. “Kissidugu is not only preserving valuable facts about the culture of West Africa they are working to bring opportunities to children who otherwise would not have means to do so.”
Advanced tickets are available by calling 384-6863 or by stopping by Humanities Center room 119. Tickets are $10 for the public. Tickets will also be available at the door. OJC students will be admitted free with a valid OJC student I.D.