- Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:29 pm
It is tricky, a lot depends on your environment and cashflow.
For me, I am excited that there are finally dancers in my area. I can not vouch for there "traditional-ness" but at least it is something. At our new years gig, we had a dancer come up during balakulandjan. Didn't know her, but we made eye contact, she "asked" I said "ok" and away we went.
Afterwards, I talked with her, she had studied in Guinea for a while. Meanwhile another of my band-mates were talking to another woman who studied for quite some time in Guinea (she mentioned the school she studied at over there, I recognized the name of the leader the school was named after, but I have a terrible memory) Then there is a dance teacher that just moved into our area, I've played for a couple of her classes.
In the over 10 years that I have been playing, I have only been able to make it to a handful of dance classes, so this is a very exciting time for me. I've worked with dancers off an on over the years, but very few of them were traditional in any sense of the word. I look forward to getting one of these connections to work this year.
There is a big difference playing for the dancers, even when the material that you have is pretty accurate. There are only a couple of the solos that I "know" that I've seen danced. I am very aware that my knowledge of the solo is only "close", not quite the real thing. What I have noticed is that after learning from a good teacher (Mahiri / Mamady) when you are exposed to the dance, I have been able to pretty quickly match up to the dance. I would assume that again I am only close, hopefully closer than I would be if I hadn't "learned" from the CD/Book/DVD followed by one on one.
The point I'm trying to make is that everyone has a specific environment that will affect their ability to get into the "nitty gritty". For many people, especially if there are no dance classes available, the cd/book/dvd rout will get them started, and possibly get them to be pretty good players.
From there they might be motivated to reach out to the next level up; dance classes, and seeking out the better teachers. From there, if their finances can handle it, comes travel to the continent.
This is where I feel stuck at the moment. I can 'just' afford to work with Mahiri, and get to what I feel are a minimum number of classes with Mamady. At the moment I have no idea how I am going to be able to afford getting to Guinea even once! I would love to be able to travel there every year. The sad thing is that I could make an arrangement with my workplace to take a month off every year, so I'd at least have a job when I got back!
Bringing it back to Garangadon (and Mamaya) I have seen some dance with large boubou's, so at least I can get the idea, but again, it is only another step in getting closer to the "goal".