Alseny Yansane Teaches on the Big Island of Hawaii

Alseny Yansane's Dance Class in Hawi, HawaiiThe last week of January 2015 Alseny and I got to enjoy a real "Aloha" experience as we were welcomed to the Big Island by Michal Anna Carrillo of Lava Roots Performing Arts and the drum and dance communities of Kona, Hilo and Hawi.

As we stepped off the plane onto the removable stairs leading down to the tarmac at the Kona Airport we were greeted by a lovely, warm breeze and the waving fronds of the palm and coconut trees. Up until about 5 years ago when the Guinean government remodeled the G'Bessia International Airport in Conakry this, too, was how airplane passengers would enter Guinea. The first thing that Alseny said to me was "this is just like Africa!" Other similarities that reminded Alseny of home was the warm hospitality that shines all over Hawaii as well as a very strong emphasis on family, local culture and veneration of elders.

Guest teaching at the regularly scheduled weekly classes in Kona, Hilo and Hawi afforded us the opportunity to cover a lot of ground on the Big Island and experience the diversity of each area's flora and fauna, ecology, geology, weather patterns and VIBES.

Alseny brought a new dance called Tantamba to the Kona community who seemed to enjoy this new twist to the Triba family of rhythms, worked on Fere Kotoba with drummers in Hilo and busted his own version of Modified Kuku to a very enthusiastic group of dancers in Hawi.

Dance class in Hawi was the culmination of our Hawaii workshops and it was totally off the chain! The Hawi dance studio, Algood Barn is an absolutely spectacular space made from bamboo, clay and other environmentally friendly materials right on the ocean with a view of Maui across the water. It was such an inspirational space and the dancers were FEELING it, cutting loose during the solos and tearing it up on the dance floor!

Hawaii is truly a beautiful island and our drum and dance classes were HOT! Literally, just like dancing in Guinea it didn't take much to work up a drenching, purifying and renewing sweat. It felt so good to be in such a balmy, beautiful place and to part of such a lovely community of dancers and drummers!

Watch the video below of the Hawi community rocking their Kuku solos for Alseny Yansane's last class on the Big Island: