Sogbety Diomande's West African Drum and Dance Company
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Sogbety Diomande's West African Drum and Dance Company

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Morley Library, Painesville, Oh, hosted Sogbety Diomande’s West African Drum and Dance Company for the Kick-off event of Black History Month 2007.

“Entertaining, energetic, and fabulous! Sogbety and his troupe are entertainers extraordinaire, a delight for all ages. They shared the spirit of West Africa with us and brought joy to all the attendees (who were reluctant to leave the Morley Music Hall). We had over 200 people attend this performance and have already requested a return engagement. In fact, after viewing the show, the City of Painesville immediately booked Sogbety to appear at the 2007 “Party in the Park”.

The entertainers are genuine, uplifting and generous, sharing not only their music, but their love for humankind and each other. Photos and hugs abounded after the performance.

I could not more highly recommend Sogbety Diamonde.”

Sara Eklund Payne
Head of Reference and Adult Services
Morley Library
Painesville, OH
- Sara Payne


Let the Lotus Spirit Move You! - Lotus World Music and Arts Festival 2008
by Sally McKinney
October 5, 2008
Bloomington, IN


Drawn together by live music and dance beats, a crowd gathers for Lotus in the Park. Outside a giant white tent, people listen to hand drums, straining to see the Sogbety Diomande's West African Drum and Dance Company workshop. Inside, sweaty dancers, mimicking their African instructors, stretch arms to dance like a flock of birds. Swoop to the left, hands to the chest, and swoop to the right.

One of seven afternoon music/dance/art workshops, Lotus in the Park is a public event of Lotus World Music and Arts Festival 2008. Held October 2 – 5, the 15th annual Lotus festival mixes sit-and-watch performances with get-up-and-dance sets. For Lotus 2008, more than two dozen world music groups from six continents perform in Bloomington, Indiana.

On Friday and Saturday evenings, performances take place between 7:00 and midnight in nine venues: the convention center, a night club, two churches, three tents, and a renovated downtown movie theater. Yet no one can see it all! Everyone must choose.

Some dance aficionados come to watch performances. In the past Lotus has showcased dancers from Royal Lao Orchestra, Chinese Folk Dance Company, and shown Sonia Poveda's Flamenco, Turkish Sufi dancers, and the Mahotella Queens. Others dance fans come to participate. Over the years they have shuffled, rocked, tapped, and clapped to the music of Paris Combo, Les Yeux Noirs, Lo'Jo, and again this year, Funkadesi.

Based on experience, I've learned to begin each evening with food and wine. At Malibu Grille, two Frenchmen at the next table see my potato—stuffed with bacon, cheese, and chives— and say to the waiter "We want what she has!"

At Lotus 2008, dance enthusiasts can be involved at any level they choose. Since all venues are located in the Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District (BEAD), an area five-by-six-city-blocks-wide, I can walk to a white-tented parking lot for Reelroad. This lively group gives traditional Russian melodies a post-folk spin. One couple keeps pace by locking arms and swinging. For a rare, slow piece, I keep the beat with a right, left, right!

The next group, Little Cow, plays Hungarian gypsy/rock/ska, has a perfect dance beat. A crowd of young people, many of them college students, jumps high in the air. Now I can use the syncopated rock step I've perfected since college.

The world spirit and vibrant energy of Chicago-based Funkadesi always moves me to dance. Their influences include Indian ragas, beach bar reggae, Latin club music, and African drums. Their ethnic clothing includes head wraps, a woman's silky tunic and pants, the bright flag colors of Jamaica.

On Saturday night, I have samosas and wine at an Afghan restaurant, Samira. Sogbety Diomande's West African Drum and Dance Company, from Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea, performs in a nearby tent. Their stunning athletic dances, driven by doundoun, djembe, and other hand drums, have the audience entranced.

"There's a reciprocity between drumming and dancing," explains Harmony Harris. She and husband, drummer/composer/performer Dr. Djo Bi, live here in Bloomington and teach African dance.

When Sogbety Diomande performs traditional masked stilt dances on stage, he mediates the world of the living and the spirits of the departed. Mesmerized, we watch as a dancer on stilts kicks nearly 90 degrees. Another dancer makes twelve leaps while reaching to his toes, and does this twelve times.

Mid-evening, in a downtown church, I watch Son de Madera. Three talented men from Veracruz, Mexico, play guitar and sing in the son jarocho tradition. A woman appears. Dark-haired and lovely, she's wearing a long, luminous blue-green dress. Sensuous, yet untouchable, she taps out percussion on a plain wooden box. Artfully, she unwinds a sash on the dress. Alas, for the village guys, this beauty is beyond their reach.

On stage at the Bluebird night club, Pistolera creates a contrasting scene. This peppy New-York-based Latino group gets dancers moving right away. Here, the audience shows off their salsa, or samba, and whatever else. Happily, there are no "dance police" to point out mistakes. Happily, there's no need to "understand" world music. First, catch the Lotus spirit. . . then you'll understand.

Strategy and Tactics:

For more about the festival including 2009 dates:
Visit http://www.lotusfest.org/

For dining and lodging information contact:
Bloomington/Monroe County Convention and Visitors Bureau
Web site http://www.visitbloomington.com/
Phone (812) 334-8900 USA

Most often, groups playing danceable music perform in tents as wide as closed-off streets. Very few chairs; much space for dancing.

Buy tickets in advance to get lower prices. Each evening after 6:00 pm, exchange the ticket for a wrist band –admission to any performance that evening. Dress is casual; - Sally Mckinney


10.05.2008
Lotus Festival: Top 5
The Lotus Fest was as awesome as one could have expected. I saw 15 artists/groups that were all excellent but a few shows stood out to me. Here are my top five:
4) Sogbety Diomande's West African Drum and Dance Company
Members who once were part of the Ivory Coast's national ballet, Sogbety Diomande's West African Drum and Dance Company were amazing musicians and dancers. Doing traditional masked performance, the event was highlighted by an elaborately costumed stilt-walker doing flips, pop-ups, and any other physical thing that I can't do without stilts.
The Stereophonic Headquarters for the Rise of the OME blogger

- The Stereophonic Headquarters for the Rise of the OME blogger


Sogbety Diomande’s breathtaking gifts as a drummer and stilt mask dancer, underscore the genuineness and warmth of his heart. He is truly a remarkable being.
Jim Donovan
Rusted Root/ Drum the Ecstatic International
6/20/2006
- Jim Donovan


Discography

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Featured on Afro Beat by Seguenon Kone 2001/Le Ballet Ivoire Spectacle
Featured on Joseph Diamond's Island Garden 2002
Featured on Jim Donovan's Drum the Ecstatic International 2006

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Bio

Sogbety Diomande was born in the village of Toufinga, a small farming community located in the Northwest region of the Ivory Coast near the border of Guinea in Africa. He started his career as a drummer and dancer at a very early age. He trained as a stilt dancer with his uncle, Vado Diomande, the reigning national stilt dancing champion. Sogbety has been stilt dancing since the age of ten and possesses the ability, through his stilt mask, to act as a mediator between the world of the living and the spiritual world of the ancestors.

Sogbety moved to Abidjan in 1990 to perform with Kotchegna, a dance company led by his uncle Vado. There he met artists from the Ballet National de Cote d’ Ivoire and began to spread his name. In 1994 Sogbety was invited by the Ballet National to perform in North America at several large festivals. On this tour he played doundoun and djembe .

Sogbety moved to North America permanently in December of 1997 and found his niche in New York City. For the next three years he performed with the Mask Dance Company led by Bley Zagae, the Kotchegna Dance Company led by his uncle Vado, Company Kobake led by Siakka Dosso, the Djoniba Dance Company, and the 7th Principle led by Yaya Kamate, as well as with many other companies and artists. He found himself performing in venues such as S.O.B.’s, Pangia, Symphony Space, Aaron Davis Hall, Lincoln Center, the Plaza Hotel, Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and The Kitchen, where he shared the stage with Herbin (Tamango) Van Cayseele, one of the greatest tap artists of today.

In addition to his incredible performing schedule he also found time to accompany dance classes at Djoniba Dance and Drum School, Abizaid, New York Sports Club, and the Mariebass School, and held his own djembe class weekly at Djoniba.

During the Spring and Summer of 2000 Sogbety was featured as the lead djembe drummer on cult legend Jimmy Buffett’s No Passport Required tour.
For most of 2001 Sogbety was a resident artist at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. There he performed at Harambe African Village with Kobake, an impressive Ivoirenne quartet.

In February 2002 Sogbety was a featured artist in a tour of the Northwest showcasing mask culture in the Ivory Coast, where he drummed to critical acclaim. During the next month he performed for the king of Cameroon. And during that same year he recorded with jazz pianist Joseph Diamond.

Sogbety has been featured with Tokounou, a Guinean dance and drum company led by Sidiki Conde. With Tokounou Sogbety has traveled around the U.S. in addition to doing local clinics at various schools, which included a residency at a school in the Bronx for disabled children where they encouraged the children to dance and play despite their disabilities.

In August 2004 he performed with Kotchegna at the National Folk Festival in Bangor, Maine. In October 2004 he was featured drum instructor alongside Mamady Keita, master drummer from Guinea at Canaan Valley Resort in West Virginia.

In Janurary 2005 Sogbety performed with Kikombe Cha Umoja! in Pittsburgh at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater. In February he performed with Balafon West African Dance Ensemble at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Both of these shows were directed by Kadiatou Conte-Forte. The last weekend in February he participated as a performer and teacher at Drum Talk 2005! at the University of Pittsburgh along with Elie Kihonia, Jim Donovan, and Mamady Keita.
In February of 2005 he formed his own troupe and performed for Black History events in Ohio. As a trio, he performed 13 shows for the Mansfield Summer Library Program.
In 2006 and 2007 Sogbety toured with Jim Donovan’s Drum the Ecstatic, played occasionally with Mike Perkins, performed and did residencies for schools and universities, juvenile correctional facilities and festivals.
Sogbety Diomande's West African Festival became an annual event in Aug. 2006. (www.freewebs.com/sogbetydiomande) for festival information.
2007 brought more opportunity for Sogbety when he joined the roster of Artist-in-Schools through Greater Columbus Arts Council.
2008 brought Sogbety another opportunity to work with schools through Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio. (www.yaneo.org) where he joined as an artist on the roster.
Sogbety's troupe was featured at the 2008 Lotus World Music Festival in Bloomington, IN.
Sogbety made his first trip back home to the Ivory Coast in the winter of 2008/2009. It was a joyous time with his family. He continues to travel and keeps busy with school shows and many other arts events.
Sogbety is available for bookings by calling Melanie at 419-522-5058 or email at highlands@neo.rr.com.
www.myspace.com/sogbetydiomande
Visit My Website