Members of Kikayambe teach children about West African culture in a colourful and musical way. Kikayambe will perform Nov. 26 at the Cleland Theatre as part of Children’s Showcase. Submitted photo

Children’s Showcase features West African culture and drumming

Kikeyambay, a four person drumming and dance group from Victoria, is performing in Penticton

Both children and adults will have a chance to learn about West African culture and drumming this Sunday.

Kikeyambay, a four person drumming and dance group from Victoria, will be at the Cleland Theatre for the second instalment of the Children’s Showcase.

In the morning prior to the children’s show, which starts at 2 p.m., master drummer Alseny Michel Diallo will teach two workshops for adults using the djembe and dundun drums.

Following the workshops children will get a glimpse into West African culture through a music filled journey filled with colour and dazzling dances.

“We perform a cultural story of what it was like in the village and the story of how they farmed and produced enough food for the year,” Ilana Moon, one of the group’s founding members said. “Traditionally the community would be out drumming and singing and all this while the people were farming. The whole village is a part of what happens.”

Moon has performed in the African world beat music scene for over 20 years and even operated her own dance company called Dancingmoon Multicultural Arts Dance Company.

She’s played in a number of bands including Jambanja Marimba Band which performed at a private show for Oprah Winfrey in 2007.

She’s performed at hundreds of schools through the Artstarts program, a non-profit organization that brings professional artists into B.C. schools.

At one point she travelled to West Africa to expand and study the art form. While in Guinea, she met Diallo. They fell in love and were married.

“I went over there and while there I met him in a village. He’s been drumming since he was 12 years old. Over there it’s sort of like everybody does some form of drumming or dance. It’s just around and all the kids do it. They start forming kid performance groups when they’re small. Kids don’t have lots of toys. They have what they have and they just make instruments and perform,” she said.

Moon said when the couple met, Diallo was performing in three ballets, which are drumming and dance groups in Africa.

“It’s a very dedicated thing there. People who are really successful over there are the artists. They’re the people that leave Africa,” she said. “People come from all over the world to learn West African drumming and dancing. They’re very famous for their strength and variety.”

The children’s show includes a number of dances and colourful costumes. Moon said several children will be chosen from the audience to participate in the show.

“The whole idea with the show is we are going to teach kids about the instruments and how important the instruments are to village life and the culture. We want the kids to go away humming and singing these rhythm,” she said.

Adults interested in taking part in the workshops can buy tickets at Tumbleweed Gallery or Eventbrite.ca. Tickets are $20 for one workshop or $35 for both.The Participants must have their own drum for the djembe workshop, while a limited number of dunduns are available.

Tickets for the Children’s Showcase performance starting at 2 p.m. are available at Tumbleweed Gallery, Penticton Arts Council office, Oliver Veterinary Hospital and online at Eventbrite.ca. Tickets can also be purchased at the door. The Children’s Showcase Society is a non-profit organization that has made quality live performances accessible to Okanagan families for more than 30 years.

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