Bio:

Kotchegna Dance Company:

Vado Diamonde has danced since the age of four, mastering over sixty different regional dance and drumming traditions of his native Ivory Coast, as well as other nearby West African countries.  While still a teenager he was recruited by the Ballet National de Cote d’Ivoire where he both performed and choreographed for over 15 years. He toured extensively with the ballet, performing throughout Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia.

In 1989 he established L’Ensemble Kotchegna D’Abidjan, which has resided in the United States as the Kotchegna Dance Company since 1994. He continues to strengthen his experience as a choreographer, artistic director, teacher and performer. Vado is also a master drum-maker.

Programs:

Kotchegna Dance Company Performance Description

With a team of dancers and drummers, Kotchegna brings the thrill of strong djembe drumming entwined with the ensemble dances that showcase traditional village dances from all over Ivory Coast. With over 60 different ethnicities in Ivory Coast, KDC has a large repertoire of dances from many peoples, each with their own song, drum rhythms and dance steps. Costuming reflects the colorful village life, with pom-poms, raffia skirts, ankle bracelets and hand wands.

The company takes the audience through several high-energy dances that display various functions such as celebration dances, initiation dances, marriage and fertility dances, harvest, and New Year’s Day dances. In between dances, there is teaching of a call and response song, as well as some sharing about the djembe and bass doundoun drums. More dancing follows, finishing off with audience participation onstage, teaching participants a few steps to dance with the drums in an exciting final demonstration.

Kotchegna Dance Company Dance Workshop Description

A workshop with Vado learning Ivory Coast dancing is exciting and vigorous. He begins with a warm-up that combines familiar stretches and movements with African gestures and moves. Then everyone learns the steps of a dance in sequence, connecting them to the drum rhythms; they also learn the drum call that signals step changes. Everyone dances together with the drums,
integrating them into an exciting experience that is taken across the floor in traveling steps. Vado then introduces another dance and its rhythms traveling across the floor; participants get to experience a different series of steps and new drum rhythms. Everyone finishes together in a final
presentation of the first learned dance, after which a circle is made, and everyone is encouraged to solo their thanks to the drummers, doing their own inspired and improvised steps in the middle. The class ends with a line filing past the drummers, bowing their thanks. Everyone is happy.

I just wanted to thank you again for suggesting Kotchegna to perform at St. Joseph’s College. They were absolutely amazing! They captivated the entire room and had everyone dancing in their seats. The students couldn’t wait to get up and dance with them! It is always a pleasure working with Conscious Campus.

Magie HassaninAssistant to the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students & Multicultural Student Life St. Joseph’s College

Vado Diamonde, a stilt walker, managed high kicks, as well as a back walkover in thrilling and suspenseful slow motion.

Gia KourlasThe New York Times