MAMOUDOU DIALLO : FROM BURKINA AND BEYOND…. then back again.
Mamoudou Diallo who originally hails from Burkina Faso left his homeland, the Burkinabe village of Hounde, at the burgeoning young age of 12, in pursuit of a life of learning and sharing in the arts. At his first stop, Dakar, Senegal, Mamoudou got involved in visual arts with the French cineaste, Jean-Michel Bruyere, making several trips to France to exhibit his works. While still in Senegal, Mamoudou encountered the art of circus through Cirque du Monde, (of Cirque Du Soleil) an organization that uses circus arts as social intervention for marginalized youth in countries all over the world. Totally inspired by the magic of this art form he carried on to pursue work as an assistant in training to Cirque Du Monde’s programs in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast for a couple of years.
True to his Peul (a nomadic tribe of West Africa) roots, Mamoudou kept on moving… This time his travels took him to Guinea, Conakry where he deepened his knowledge by studying and performing circus arts as well as expanded his horizons by adding some traditional African dance and music to the mix. With a performance repertoire now consisting of acrobatics, various forms of juggling, unicycling, stilt walking and “corde lise”, all in combination with African dance and music, the mix was ready to go!
Mamoudou took the dive and left the motherland behind crossing the ocean to come and share what he had learned here in Canada. Since his arrival here in Canada he has continued to work with Cirque du Monde’s social intervention programs which have taken him to various corners of Canada, including Nunavik. He has also been performing with various troops, including the Afro Circus group Kalabante with whom he toured across Canada and as far as Nagasaki, Japan as well as the group Noumoufassa with whom he has performed in over 50 schools in the B.C. lower mainland. He has also been performing a solo “cord lise” number since 2012 at such venues as Festival Internationale de Jazz de Montréal and other venues. In 2013 Mamoudou began leading and performing in the Afro Circus production “SABALI!” with long time student and performer of African dance and percussion Allison Griffith. This action packed performance provides great entertainment while also raising awareness of his project in Africa. Sharing his art all over the world continually impassions Mamoudou. He also has an increasing desire to bring it all back home. With this in mind, in 2011 he founded “Cirque Jeunesse En Équilibre”, a not for profit organization aimed at providing youth and adults from all backgrounds, including the youth of his native village of Houndé, Burkina Faso the enriching experience of discovering circus arts and African arts and culture!
Allison’s childhood crush on Africa turned into a life long love affair after her first trip to West Africa in 1993. After returning home from this trip to Nigeria, she decided to move from Duncan, B.C., (where she was born and raised) to the big city of Vancouver in pursuit of African dance and percussion. This is when she discovered Guinea dance and drum and fell even more passionately in love with drum and dance than ever before. For the next decade, life consisted of tree planting to support her quest to absorb as much African drum and dance as possible. This quest led her to spend winters in Guinea, Senegal, Montreal and Toronto as well as make many a trip to the USA for events in the art form.
The beginning of the next decade found Allison leaving the travelling student lifestyle behind and settling in Vancouver when she started performing more consistently with Aboubacar Camara’s group, Doundounba and then N’nato Camara’s group Asakumi. During this time she also spent some time dancing to the beat of a different drum in William Wallace’s “Extreme Percussion Orchestra” SWARM, as well as playing percussion in Pepe Danza’s group Drum Prayers.
In 2007 Allison moved to Montreal where the winters are cold…but the African drum and dance scene is hot! In Montreal her focus moved back to studying where she honed her skills, particularly in dance while studying with the many amazing teachers in Montreal.
Six years later, in 2013 Allison moved back into performing as well as started teaching West African dance while continuing her life long commitment to studying. Allison is currently excited to be performing and co-choreographing in Cirque Jeunesse En Équilibre’s performance project “SABALI!” with multidisciplinary, Burkinabe, Afro circus artist Mamoudou Diallo as well as taking an administrative role in his fledgling not for profit organization that aims to share circus and African arts with people of all backgrounds including the project of bringing circus arts to his native Burkinabe village of Hounde.
Twenty years later, Allison is still passionate about the magic of African drum and dance and is excited at the prospect of giving back to people in Africa as well as continuing to study and share this love with people here in Canada, hoping that it may affect their lives in positive ways, as it did hers!