In Benin, West Africa, dance is part of everyday life: in weddings, name givings or funerals there is always dancing with drum accompaniment. Dancing is also an essential part of the rituals of voodoo religion. This workshop of Beninese dances is suitable for dancers of all levels. We will dance to drumming recorded in Benin. It is easiest to dance with bare feet and in light clothing.
Dominique Sossou is a dancer and dance teacher from Cotonou. At present, he lives in Grand-Popo, which several Finns know due to the Finnish cultural centre situated there. Dominique has danced traditional dances like agbadja, zinli, tchinkoumè and kaka already when he was a child. He performs every year at festivals in his home country and has also toured in e.g. Spain together with dancer, choreograph Robert Dokponnou. As a teacher, Dominique is clear, supportive and humorous.
Check the prices, instructions for signing up and other workshops on the workshop page!
Zimbabwe’s pride, most successful artist and national treasure, Oliver Mtukudzi is gifted with a deep and gusty voice plus a talent for writing songs that reflect on the daily life and struggles of his people. ‘Tuku’ as he is known, began performing in 1977 and has earned a devoted following across Africa and beyond, all the while incorporating elements of different musical traditions. A member of Zimbabwe’s Kore Kore tribe, he sings in the nation’s dominant Shona language as well as Ndebele and English.
Tuku (along with Angelique Kidjo, Hugh Masekela and Ladysmith Black Mambazo) is one of the most successful African recordings artists in North America, having sold hundreds of thousand of records on Putumayo, Heads Up/Telarc and Sheer Sound. One of Tuku’s biggest fans is Bonnie Raitt, who has not only called Tuku “a treasure,” and recorded a cover of “Hear me Lord” but also credits Tuku as the inspiration for the song “One Belief Away” on her album Fundamental.
Total Hip Replacement is a young band that blends reggae and funk, focusing on explosive energy that transcends stylistical borders and venues around the world. It consists of five guys from Aarhus, who have a lengthy history in the local underground scene. Apart from doing European shows the band also did a visit to Ghana in the spring of 2013.
Band members: Philip Akrofi – bass & trombone, Victor West Hosbond – vocals & trombone, Malthe Jepsen – keys, Alexander Arlien-Søborg Dutschke – drums, Carl West Hosbond – guitar
Noël Saizonou – voice and percussion | Petri Kautto – guitar | Kari Ikonen – moog synthesizer
An ultra-positive, high-energy, extraordinary afro-pop-jazz trio that makes you smile, dance and feel happy!
In this 2-day workshop – 6 hours of teaching in total! – we will concentrate on West African rhythms with Noël Saïzonou from Benin. In Benin and its neighborin countries almost all music is connected to Voodoo religion, and therefore many rhythms are associated to Voodoo spirits or ceremonies, even though the same rhythms can be part of other kinds of music as well. These rhythms have also been a source for various Afro Caribbean styles of music.
This workshop is particularly suited for people who have some experience of West African or Afro Caribbean percussions, but also beginners can participate. If you own some West African percussion instrument, you can bring it with you, but instruments will be available at the workshop. You can find the instructions for enrollment on the workshop page.
Noël Saïzonou is a Beninese musician who is best known in Finland as the sunny percussionist-saxophonist-singer of Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble. However, he has also accomplished many other things in the field of music both in Finland and in his home country: apart from HCE, he also plays in Finland with the afrojazz band Trio Toffa, that will perform in Friday’s main concert. In addition, Noël has been teaching Beninese rhythms and dances e.g. in courses of the Theatre Academy and the Kilombo festival in Helsinki.
Mzungu Kichaa, or “Crazy White Man”, was born in Denmark, but grew up in Tanzania, where he learned to speak swahili fluently and later got involved in music. He is well known in Tanzania and all around East Africa as one of the pioneers of Bongo Flava music style and has worked as part of the jury for Bongo Star Search, a talent search competition on TV (much like Idols or Talent).
“Weather Report meets Fela, you might say. They are good enough.” This is how Rick Sanders of fRoots magazine wrote about Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble.
Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble impresses it’s listener not only with intense moods and joyful yet virtuoso performances, but also with fresh and carefully crafted songwriting. As composers Noel Sazonou and Janne Halonen are enough far apart to make the cocktail something completely new, yet they both possess enough musicianship to complement each other’s works.
Drawing inspiration from the roots of Afrobeat, they use their jazz experience to expand on Voodoo rhythms with a modern urban touch. In November their second Album “Fire, Sweat & Pastis” was released in Finland, and only few months later it received the Ethno Album of the Year award.
The award-winning Malian-Danish bass player Moussa Diallo has a long career in playing pop and rock music in his other home country Denmark. In recent years, he has been using music from Mali, his other home country, as his main source of inspiration.
Dances from Benin are rarely seen outside the small West African Benin, because only a couple of decades ago these they were not even allowed to be performed apart from local ceremonies closed from outsiders. Since then groups have been formed that perform these dances on local and international stages. Noël Saïzonou, the central figure of Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble that plays this year already for the second time in Fest Afrika, introduces the participants of this class to the dances of his home country.
The roots of Beninese dances are for the most part in the Voodoo tradition, and their movements typically reflect the nature of a Voodoo spirit or the situation for which the dance is originally part of. Nowadays these dances are also danced in other situations than religious ceremonies, and they include influences from other African dances.
This workshop is suited for dancers of all levels, also beginners. Comfortable clothes and bare feet are recommended. Check prices and the instructions for enrollment on the workshop page.
Noël Saïzonou is a Beninese musician who is best known in Finland as the sunny percussionist-saxophonist-singer of Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble. However, he has also accomplished many other things in the field of music both in Finland and in his home country: apart from HCE, he also plays this summer in Finland with the afrojazz band Trio Toffa. In addition, Noël has been teaching Beninese rhythms and dances e.g. in courses of the Theatre Academy and the Kilombo festival in Helsinki.