Lamine Thiam teaching dance classThis past spring in the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, we were very pleased to produce an inspiring Oral History Project interview with Lamine Thiam. A world-renowned dancer, choreographer, drummer and actor, Mr. Thiam specializes in West African Dance from his native Sénégal and neighboring countries. We digitally filmed Carolyn Webb's interview with Mr. Thiam, so that it is now among the first dance videos to be made available on the newly launched NYPL Digital Collections website in beta mode. You can view this interview in its entirety online!
A masterful teacher from a lineage of Griots, throughout this interview Mr. Thiam explains and demonstrates the ways that West African dance, drumming and singing are deeply inter-connected. Mr. Thiam also tells the story of his own life. He first speaks about his happy childhood in Dakar, one that was richly imbued with traditional music, dancing, family life and ceremonies.
As a teen, Mr. Thiam was inspired by an older brother, who was also a dancer, to begin intensive dance and drumming training at the Conservatoire National d'Arte Dramatique du Sénégal, and the Manhattan Dance School. After establishing himself as a performer throughout Sénégal, Lamine immigrated to the US in 1993. It was in New York that Mr. Thiam met Djoniba Mouflet, who helped him adjust to life in the US, and he began teaching at the newly formed Djoniba Dance and Drum Centre.
Mr. Thiam has now traveled throughout the US as a performer and teacher. Within his own company, the Bousso African Dance and Drum Ensemble, Mr. Thiam describes his disciplined yet joyful approach to training and rehearsing. He advocates that everyone can experience the ways that West African dance creates a lively, healthy body and an open mind. Want to try it out? You can currently find his weekly classes at Cumbe in Brooklyn, NY.
As Mr. Thiam sees it, "African dance is love," and he continues to be a generous ambassador of these empowering, freeing, and healing dances.