· Moustaffa Bangoura and Le Bagatae (click on this to hear it!) troup - they also have instructional dance DVDs that are excellent
· Yousuff Koumbassa - click on "bio" and scroll down to see him dance - WOW! the best dancer ever. Check out his camp Fareta and his instructional DVDs.
· Lamine Thiam
· Denise Arias belly dance teacher in LA. her classes are a fantastic foundation for African dance.
· Conglese camp on Maui, yearly, around February-March.
· Various camps during summer time - Camp Fareta, August in California, etc.
rhythmtraders.com Mamadu Keita has books, DVDs with individual rhythms. Abdoul Doumbia has a book with CDs. The visiting teachers have their own sites and DVDs. There is also the Rhythm Reference Project.
The music is traditionally not recorded but learned by listening and practicing with a live teacher. That works for African village where you hang out with the teachers, hear the music, and drum and dance every day. In modern western life, when there is one-two drum or dance class per week, it is harder to remember what you played/danced last week. It is possible to bring a tape recorder / camera to some classes, but most professional teachers do not allow recording. TO THE RESCUE:
Master drummer and dancer Fara Tolno compiled 50 West African rhythms: Rhythm Reference Project
So for $40 you can download the traditional version of it. For $100 you can download traditional, ballet, and master teachers (e.g. Mamadu) versions of the same rhythms. Each rhythm has many different parts, so all together it is about 500 different pieces.
This is a good deal! The money is going to help open a school in Guinea, West Africa, for traditional teachers to share their knowledge of drum, dance, balafon, cora, etc. and other aspects of the traditional African culture. Which is quickly dieing. It needs to be preserved. The quality of that music is extremely healing. If you want to read my opinions and experiments with it, read below and also read my blog and my articles.
What to bring and how to prepare
Some teachers have loaner drums, and some do not. Ask them before you show up. If you don't have a drum, you can only watch :)
There are many drums for sale online, and sometimes locally. Check craigs list and ask the drummers. Plan to spend about $400 for a good djembe. Anything cheaper will sound cheap :)
Dunduns (stick drums) are typically cheaper than djembes.
Conga drums are easy to find used, usually cheap. They do need to be commercially made and can be cheap or costly when new.
For dance classes, just come dressed to move a lot and sweat heavily. For women: usually a tank top and leggings with a lapa on top. For men: some kind of shirt with shorts/pants.
And most importantly, bring the right attitude - of community, respect and celebrating life.
Playing and dancing African music is extremely healing because it engages higher parts of the brain, and joins mind and body. It heals grief and makes us relax into God.
Read more about this healing music therapy on my African page.