Kotchegna Dance Company: Traditional Dance of the Ivory Coast

Vado Diomande toured and choreographed as a principal dancer in the Ballet National de Côte d’Ivoire for many years. He established his own dance company, Kotchegna Dance Company (KDC) in 1989, relocating to New York City in 1994. His multi-ethnic dance company draws from the country’s over 60 different ethnic traditions from Ivorian village life. Their annual showcase, Kekene – The Gathering, features a dance-drama with guest Ivory Coast performers and the company in a spectacular evening of traditional dance and drum for all ages. In its seventeenth year, Kekene XVII will be presented in October in New York City. Vado and KDC teach, perform and tour throughout the US, offering dance and drum experiences to enthusiastic audiences everywhere.


Kotchegna Dance Company Performance Description

Kotchegna is a corps of dancers and drummers who bring the thrill of joyful drumming and the vibrant color of traditional village dances from over 60 different tribal disciplines. Dances celebrate important moments in the villagers’ lives, from births to deaths, rites of passage, festival days and important visitations. The villagers sing, clap, dance, and play instruments, each person taking a turn in the circle.

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