Mohata – African drumming in Darling Harbour

Today Celine and I went to the 21st birthday of Darling Harbour. I love Australia and one of the reasons is the amount of fantastic free cultural things that are put on for the public.

It’s always great to get in some free culture and today was especially good because Mohammed Bangoura (Bangorake) was playing along with his group Mohata.

Mohata

As usual we came across Mory and Aicha, who are everywhere in Sydney. There were a couple of other drummers who I hadn’t seen before. I solid, strong Dundun player and another djembe player who’s name I didn’t catch… Something Camara (please let me know).

What a pleasure to be able to see things like this for free, right in my adopted back yard!

Check out the video for a taster….

A day of drum and dance in Sydney

As some you know I’m living in Sydney at the moment.

Last weekend I attended a djembe drum and dance workshop in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains.

It was organised by John and Emily of and Hands, Heart and Feet who run all sorts of drum, dance, story telling lessons and activities from the Blue Mountains.

First we did the djembe workshop with Aliou Sylla from Conarky in Guinea. I had never met Aliou before and he is fantasic. He’s both Humble and a great drummer!

The djembe workshop was first…. I can safely say that it was the biggest djembe workshop I have ever attended, with 42 djembe players not counting the big man himself. We were supported by perhaps 5/6 dundun players….

We learn’t Balakulanja and Alliou moved pretty quickly from warm up to accompaniments to some solo.

My head was spinning by the end of it, let alone the beginners, but who said an all levels workshop wasn’t possible with that many djembe players. I would have said so before hand anyway….

I was undecided as to whether I should do the dance workshop afterwards or not and my decision to do so was last second. It was led by Mori Traore and Aicha Keita.

Mori is the best African dance teacher I have found when it comes to breaking it down and explain each piece. I found Aicha slightly more difficult to get to grips with, but man can she dance. She’s definitely one of the best dancers I’ve seen….

We learn’t a few moves for Sorsonnet and it was really challenging at times…. I was glad of my decision to do the dance class by the end of it anyway….

After the workshops there was a performance by Emily and Jon’s drum and dance classes. I was impressed with all of the performers and it made me feel really happy that there was such a huge African Drum and dance scene in a town as small as Katoomba.

Full repect to Emily and John for their grassroots bringing the music to the people attitude.

Towards the end of the evening there was a performance by Alliou, Mori, Aicha, Eldad, Mark, John and another chap I never met… Here’s a video:

The final act of the night was Emily and John, with John playing a little bit of bougarabou and telling a story which Emily acted the story out in dance. This was something I hadn’t seen before and it was truely refreshing. This highly interactive innovative little piece was both a highlight and a great way to finished the night!

A strange yet totally cool Saturday. I was great to be drumming and dancing after such a long break!

You should check out Aliou’s band, muhanamwe, they have a few nice tracks on their myspace.