Mondays, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Traditional African rhythms and melodies on the djembe drum. *Drums are provided; you are welcome to bring your own, too.
Students from African Drum Class perform at Wacheva’s 2011 Annual Fundraiser Showcase
Instructor: Biboti Ouikahilo
By Andrew Hida, 2011
Biboti was born in the Sinfra Progouri West region of the Ivory Coast, West Africa. In December 1980, Biboti began his professional dance career with the prominent Ivory Coast National Dance Company. Touring throughout the world provided Biboti with the opportunity to share his talents in a number of countries, including Morocco, Germany, Belgium, England, France, Yugoslavia, Italy, Kenya, Spain, and Mexico.
In 1988, the Director of the Ivory Coast National Ballet, Louis Akin, appointed Biboti to be the trainer of all new dancers, resulting in the beginning of his choreographing career. As the founder, producer, choreographer and dancer of Wacheva Dance Company in 1994, Biboti began to express his own artistic abilities. In Biboti’s words, “everywhere in the world we can find the dance school, but, never will you find the choreography school. To be a choreographer, you must be guided by the wording or text of the piece and trust yourself — this is of the choreography philosophies — to use song, costumes, movements, rhythm and more!”
Biboti’s premier piece was about the AIDS epidemic, titled “God’s Revenge.” Due to its success, Biboti became a founding member of the Ivory Coast National Dance Company in 1995, after the dissolution of the National Ballet. From 1992-1996, Biboti was invited to be a judge for the Vacances Culture and Variotoscope which was a national cultural organization that selected the best artists of the country, including works of dance, song and theater. The auditions took place every summer and were aired nationally on television and radio. It wasn’t until a local theatre in Indianapolis, IN, began recruiting him and his colleagues in 1997, did the West African performer and choreographer permanently reside in the United States. Biboti paired up with others to create Africa Azolou, a celebratory show of Africa, Brazil and the United States. The success of the company brought the show to Ohio, Chicago and New York City.
New York City became the homeland for his West African teaching styles and techniques. Biboti taught for 6 years at the renowned Djoniba Dance and Drum Center, as well as Abizaid Studio and Lehman College. He worked with young children at Ifetayo Cultural Arts, in Brooklyn, NY. The mission of this after-school program was to teach African culture and the art of the dance. Throughout his teaching career in New York City, Biboti was still able to feed his passion for performing when he was chosen as a lead African drummer for the Jimmy Buffett Summer Tour in 2000-2001. The West African dancer, drummer and choreographer continued to express his artistic abilities in 2002, when he traveled to Hawaii to participate in the Hollywood film “Tears of the Sun,” starring Bruce Willis. In July 2003, Biboti moved to Syracuse, NY, where he currently teaches African dance in Syracuse, NY. In 2004, Biboti teamed up with Partners for Arts Education, a local organization that provides funding and support to deepen and enrich educational experiences in and through the arts for students, teachers and artists. In 2005, Biboti also partnered with Oswego County BOCES’s Arts-in-Education program, teaching West African dance and drum workshops and performing West African dance, drum and mask within elementary, middle and high schools throughout Central New York (see school program for arts-in-education programs offered).
Since he relocated to Syracuse, Biboti has been able to share his culture and artistry with a large number of college students, teaching dance workshops and performing at institutions such as Syracuse University, Oswego State, Cazenovia College, Canisius College, Hamilton College, Cortland State and more.
In 2004 and 2005, Biboti was awarded an Individual Artist grant from the Cultural Resources Council of Syracuse with which he organized a weekend dance/drum workshop and performance event (JFOB Cultural Arts and Wacheva Cultural Arts). Biboti invited his colleagues from New York City, a collection of professional West African dance and drum teachers, to teach master dance and drum workshops at the Westcott Community Center and perform at the Everson Museum of Art. Both years, the workshops and performance were highly attended by individuals from all over Central New York, such as Ithaca, Rochester, Utica, Oswego and Watertown.
Biboti’s intention is to share his love, passion and joy for West African dance and drum with the CNY community, uniting and celebrating the diversity of the world’s cultures.