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For Press Inquiries, contact Camille Cintrón Devlin, Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications at 703-993-8794 or cdevlin6@gmu.edu

SONG AND DANCE ENSEMBLE OF WEST AFRICA

September 11, 2008
Contact: Press & Media Relations Coordinator (703-993-8794)

For general information about tickets, seating, parking, etc., for performances and events happening at the Center for the Arts, please contact the ticket office directly at 703-993-2787.

GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY’S CENTER FOR THE ARTS 

WELCOMES

SONG AND DANCE ENSEMBLE OF WEST AFRICA

Friday, Oct. 10, 2008 at 8 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008 at 8 p.m.

FAIRFAX, Va., Sept. 11, 2008With an explosion of sound, this incredible ensemble paints a colorful and electrifying collage of the many amazing cultures of West Africa. Song and Dance Ensemble of West Africa brings a spectacular array of singers, dancers and musicians to the Concert Hall stage at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts on Friday, Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. A pre-performance discussion, free to ticket holders, begins 45 minutes prior to each performance on the Center’s Grand Tier III.

Described as a “rich and colorful ensemble” by the London Times, Song and Dance Ensemble of West Africa has celebrated the rich musical, dance and folkloric traditions of a diverse region that includes Togo, Senegal, Guinea, Ghana, Benin, the Ivory Coast and Mauritania. The ensemble was formed in 1970 in West Africa, under the support of the government’s programs to revive folkloric music by fostering the arts and culture of indigenous people. The group persevered as it carried on these diverse traditions, surviving defections, the rivalries of other musical ensembles by adversary factions in the region and even the unfortunate deaths of several of the founding members. 

What has helped the ensemble continue its success throughout the years is its unique blending of traditional West African melodies and musical styles, with just a touch of Western influence. Song and Dance Ensemble of West Africa has gained great notoriety around the world and in its members’ respective home countries due to its unique fusion of traditional folklore, song and dance with contemporary themes, which continue to shape and mold these amazing cultures. “Now it’s the young who have come with new inspiration for the music,” artistic director Bamba Dembelé said. “We used to always play praise songs and ballads. Now we leave out the praise song and add music that makes people move.” The ensemble’s music now combines various African musical styles, Congolese soukous blending with West African Manding, reggae fusing with Latin. The result is extraordinary and authentic West African song and dance that has been greeted with enthusiasm all over the world.

 

The Center for the Arts is pleased to recognize the generous support of PNC and the PNC Foundation as sponsor of the 2008-09 Great Performances at Mason Season.

Tickets for SONG AND DANCE ENSEMBLE OF WEST AFRICA are $46, $38, $23. Family Friendly! Children 12 and under half price! Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit www.tickets.com. The Center for the Arts complex is located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University at the intersection of Braddock Road and Route 123. Paid parking is located in the deck adjacent to the mainstage Concert Hall and FREE parking is located in university lot K.  Visit www.gmu.edu/cfa

 GREAT PERFORMANCES AT MASON is a program of George Mason University’s Center for the Arts, the professional presenting arm of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The College of Visual and Performing Arts exists to create an academic environment in which the arts may be considered both as individual disciplines and as interdisciplinary forms that strengthen each other. Believing that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the College draws on a variety of professional presenting and producing units where artists from across the country and around the world regularly perform, give master classes, work with students during extended residencies and interact with the community in a variety of other ways. These programs at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall, TheaterSpace, Galleries, Harris Theater and other venues, provide a diverse selection of challenging and entertaining cultural experiences for the University community, as well as Northern Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C. area. The College houses four academic departments: Art and Visual Technology, Dance, Music and Theater.

 About George Mason University

George Mason University, located in the heart of Northern Virginia’s technology corridor near Washington, D.C., is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with national distinction in a range of academic fields. With strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering, information technology, biotechnology and health care, Mason prepares its students to succeed in the work force and meet the needs of the region and the world. Mason professors conduct groundbreaking research in areas such as cancer, climate change, information technology and the biosciences, and Mason’s Center for the Arts brings world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage. Its School of Law is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 35 law schools in the United States.