[pro-player width=’330′ height=’280′ type=’video’]http://folkarts.ohioartscouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/Papa-Assane-Mbaye.mp4[/pro-player]Interviewed at Karamu House, Cleveland by Sandra Grady
27 April 2011

Papa Assane M’Baye was born and raised in Dakar, Senegal. He came from a family with a strong tradition of singing and dancing, and learned his musical skills from his extended family. At a young age, he began performing with his family at celebrations and events, and eventually at Le Ballet National du Senegal. His family also performed in Europe.

He came to the US in 2000 as part of a group performing Mandinke epics called the Ballet Afrique Noire, which included dancers and musicians from Senegal, Mali and Guinea. During his stay, he was offered a contract in Baltimore, and then was offered a position at The KanKouran West African Dance Company, a well established company based in Washington, DC where his former teacher was Musical Director. Assane performed with the troupe, and later became its Musical Director. He continues to participate in their annual drum and dance conference during the Labor Day weekend.

Assane is now based in Cleveland, where he teaches at Karamu School in Cleveland and Shore Cultural Center in Euclid. In addition to his teaching, he performs on evenings and weekends in Cleveland and cities across the Midwest and East Coast. He came to Cleveland from the East coast because of the opportunity to teach in schools.

He has also put together an ensemble called TamTam Magic, which features West African artists working with African American performers. This ensemble, made up of five dancers and four drummers, has performed at festivals, holiday celebrations, weddings, parties, and parades. In 2011, it entered into a contract (along with other local artists) with the Cleveland Zoo to perform at its Africa exhibit throughout the summer.

Assane continues to return annually to Senegal in the winter months to develop his skills in traditional food, culture and dance.

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