Monday, November 26, 2012

Diamano Coura West African Dance Company's Home Season

This weekend Diamano Coura's West African Dance Company presented two pieces with guest choreographers: Nimley Napla and Ousseynou Kouyate. The first work, Kouyate's Insight, looked at a young man journey away from home to the far reaches of the vast continental Africa he is resident of, and his realization of its immense beauty --its people and resources.

The dancing and costuming was beautiful as to expected from one of the Bay Area's premiere companies. A new aspect of this year's season was the inclusion of Diamano Coura's community dancers, nonprofessional dancers in the professional company. They performed in longer work by Napla--The Leopard Ballet. A native of Liberia like Naomi Diouf, folklorist Artistic of Diamano Coura. Emmy Award winner, Diamano Coura Founder and Director Zak Diouf could be heard singing off stage and during Insight he came on stage and danced with choreographer Kouyate, both men Senegalese.

Live drumming was another component of the show, and for the second half, there was a balafon solo. The live music, dynamic dancers and colorful costumes not to mention the age range on stage in the professional company, children who looked younger than 12 in substantive roles was to say the least impressive.

The company is a part of a matching campaign. Visit

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Wanda's Picks Radio Show: To Be Thankful on A Black Friday, Nov. 23, 2012

At times the houses are almost turned over--as cast climb onto the roof, hang off the edges and literally spin around. The audience walks around the houses and listens--it was great that the installation was up for a few days with multiple performances. That way, one could go back and listen even more carefully to the narrative perhaps one missed--sometimes one has to hear something multiple times before one's internal narrative stops interrupting so one can really listen or hear the other person.

Today we look at Race and Culture through multiple lens, the first in retrospect with Joanna Haigood and Charles Trapolin, visual artist, who collaborate on the work, The Monkey and the Devil, performed at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in the Forum. Opening Night featured a panel discussion with artistic collaborators and the dancers. Given the cultural mix that is San Francisco Bay Area, the intersection of heritage and history is a through line for most persons, no matter the outward packaging. Joanna Haigood is a mixed race woman, while in the interview Trapolin calling into the studio from his native New Orleans, mentions that his ancestors were slave owners.

The idea of a house, not just divided but halved--two couples, one black, another white--there are no children, not even a Spot (dog) to detract from the words expressing an experience the black man has, the white woman has--the black woman and white man have. I don't remember the details, that is, where the dialogue composition was birthed, but knowing Zaccho's work, I'm sure Joanna researched this like she does everything and the remarks were grounded in real experiences, experiences one does not experience unless one occupies the house next door or across the way. I found Rita Felciano's review quite on the mark, regarding how the white audience viewed the work--listening attentively to what the black man was saying over what the white man was saying. I'd had a little prep time so I really wanted to hear what the white man was saying and how his script was real--some white people really believe what he was saying as true. See


It was the same with the black man, only what he said, I'd heard before or at least most of it, just not in one dose. Usually racism come in incremental doses. Not that over time the pain doesn't feel the same or the wear on one's person feels less--it just creeps up on a person differently than getting such a concentrated dousing. It's as if one should wear protective covering, and it isn't as if we don't know what to expect. There is a parental guidance or warning posted, yet, even adults can think they are ready and then once the words rain on one's head, not to mention the actual physical performance, which for the men comes to blows . . .
but this is art and of course it doesn't. . . . The fact that this is art is the reason why so many came opening night.

And it's Zaccho, so the query is always intense, and we expect to feel uncomfortable.

Val Serrant and Sikiru
About one hour of this archival interview is followed by a live interview with Val Serrant and Napoleon Sabbah, whose group The African Showboyz perform Friday night, Nov. 23, 2012. The five brothers will be around for a year, so hopefully, those who missed them Friday night will have an opportunity to see them soon. The men were unbelievable. They danced out leaping into the air before beginning to play a number of songs which had the dance floor full throughout the evening. If they'd had CDs, they would have sold out (smile). Val Serrant led a drumming workshop and conversation with Sikiru, Grammy winning drummer and two other drummers before the show, then joined the brothers for a few songs towards the end of their show, which included magic (smile).

Tonight walking Lake Merritt, I saw Napoleon walking to Whole Foods for dinner. I introduced him to my friend, who'd missed the concert the other night.

Opal Palmer Adisa, our next guest was also at the concert. A Jamaican woman, Opal is for me the pulse of Pan African culture; she is so grounded in her global citizenry--must have something to do with her countryman's, the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey's creed: "Up You Mighty Nation! You Can Accomplish What You Will." Her two daughters join us and we see Garvey's dream fulfilled.

Teju Adisa-Farrar

As an expressive Jamaican-American student Teju Adisa Farrar will graduate from Wesleyan University in spring of 2013. Teju identifies as a citizen of the world. She enjoys traveling, connecting with people and learning about different cultures. Worldly and intellectually curious, Teju uses her passion for education to learn about the socio-political conditions of our world and, simultaneously she discovers and learns more about herself.

Teju’s main area of study is Sociology and Political, Critical, Cultural, and Social Theory, but social justice and global awareness are two of her main passions. Teju believes that education allows her to gain an understanding of the world as it relates to her ideas of personal growth, creativity, happiness, and ultimately, sustainability.

Using her love for dance, poetry, writing, music and research Teju continually thinks of new projects she can conduct in all corners of the world.

Opal Palmer Adisa

Opal Palmer Adisa is a writer, photographer and full professor at California College of the Arts teaching in the MFA program and undergraduate Writing and literature programs.
A writer in all genres, she has 14 books to her credit, and her works have been anthologized in over 400 journals, magazines and periodicals worldwide. Her latest, Novel, Painting Away Regrets, which  she will read from, and also talk about the groundbreaking anthology she co-edited, Caribbean Erotic.
Vivacious Shola Adisa-Farrar hails from Oakland, California. Equal parts Artist and Entrepreneur, Shola prides herself on her multi-dimensional work that has spanned entertainment, project management and international travel.

Shola Adisa Farrar

A trained Singer and Actress, Shola Adisa Farrar has studied at Fordham University, where she earned a Bachelors of Arts degree in Music, The American Conservatory Theatre, Black Repertory Theatre of Berkeley and with Master teachers Jacklyn Schnieder, Phillip George, Caroline Thomas and Tony-nominee Emily Skinner, to name a few. After surviving several episodes as one of Damon Dash's candidates for BET's business competition-based reality show Ultimate Hustler (2005), Shola has made appearances on such leading TV and radio shows as BET's 106 & Park, KMEL 106 Chuy Gomez Radio Show (Northern California) and WWPR Power 105 Star & Buc Wild's Syndicated Morning Show.

An AFTRA member, her entertainment portfolio stretches the gambit from independent film, television, voice-overs, dance and vocal performance. 

Shola has established residence in both New York City and Paris, where she now spends the majority of her time and performs regularly.

Wanda's Picks Radio Show Nov. 21, 2012

We open with two songs: Odetta singing Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child followed by Fire from Liz Wright's Salt. The first archived interview with Tim Wise re: Dear White America; Sam Pollard speaks about his film Slavery by Another Name. We interject Sweet Honey in the Rock's Motherless Child between the two interviews. When I cannot find the interview (smile) we are able to enjoy music from Meklit Hadero's Abbay Mado from On a Day like Today; Barbara Hunter's Sarah.

Wanda's Picks Radio Show Nov. 14, 2012

Kelly J. Richardson, director, Without a Net at the San Francisco Documentary Film Festival. Kelly J Richardson is a Director-Producer-Cinematographer based in San Francisco, California.  She is the founder and executive director of Live Wired Productions and WITHOUT A NET is her feature-directing debut. She has received numerous grants and awards from government agencies and private foundations, including a Fulbright scholarship for production of WITHOUT A NET.  She holds a B.A. from U.C. Berkeley. Visit This is our second interview with the director. The first was a week ago with the assistant programmer for Doc Fest and another director. This open ended conversation is a more in depth look at filmmaking, art for social change and the world of circus arts abroad and here in the San Francisco Bay Area where the director learned and honed her craft and art before traveling abroad.

Wanda's Picks Nov. 9, 2012

Guests: Della Reese, Touched by an Angel; Ava DuVernay, director, Middle of Nowhere; Amara Tabor Smith, choreographer, Our Daily Bread

Friday, November 02, 2012

Wanda's Picks Radio: Dwight Trible; Michele Rosewoman

 Dwight Trible
Michele Rosewoman
Dwight Trible joins us to talk about his latest project: Cosmic and his concert Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012, 7 PM at Yoshi's in SF. Dwight Trible is a singer who combines the best of vocal virtuosity with musicianship and improvisational skills to the delight of audiences and musicians alike. In addition to performing with his own group, the Dwight Trible Ensemble, Dwight is the vocalist with the Pharaoh Sanders Quartet and is also the vocal director for the Horace Tapscott Pan Afrikan Peoples’ Arkestra. Not a newcomer to the music scene, Dwight has worked with such notables as Oscar Brown Jr., Charles Lloyd, Billy Childs, Kenny Burrell, Kenny Garrett, Steve Turre, Harold Land, Harry Belafonte, Della Reese and Norman Conners, John Beasley, Patrice Rushen, Babatunde Lea, Ernie Watts, Kahlil El Zabar, as well as contemporary soul artist like LA Reid and DJ Rogers. Dwight’s collaborations with Horace Tapscott, Billy Higgins, Kamau Daaood and others have produced some of the finest musical moments in Los Angeles in recent years - and his best is yet to come! Like his mentors, Dwight is not content to use his music just to entertain people, although he is quite a dynamic performer. He uses his music to bring people together, to bridge the gap between the races, and to heal the human heart. He has received numerous awards for his humanitarian efforts:

We rebroadcast an interview with Michele Rosewoman, pianist, composer, bandleader, who is in town to celebrate the life and legacy of Ed Kelly, who is honored tonight at the Oakland Public Conservatory, 1616 Franklin Street, Oakland, CA, 7-9 PM:

Music: Eddie Gales's African Sunrise; Dwight Trible's Ooh Child and Little African from his latest Cosmic.

Listen here or click the post title: