Lahydi Dance Collective
Alseny Soumah’s family taught him to dance when he was a small child in Conakry, Guinea and received his diploma from Republique De Guinee Ministere De La Jeunesse and Les Ballets Africains De La République de Guinée as a Professor of Danse Traditionnelle. He went on to become Guinea’s premiere master dancer, performing with Les Merveilles D’Afrique and Les Ballet Africains, Guinea’s national drum and dance company. Alseny Soumah has toured Africa, Europe, and the US, and has performed at Lincoln Center, among other notable venues.
Founded in 2001 by Alseny Soumah, the Lahydi Dance Collective is dedicated to sustaining the cultural integrity and legacy of Guinea, West Africa through education, advocacy, community programs and partnerships. In the Susu language, Lahydi means “to promise” which is the goal of the collective to preserve, present and teach the art forms of Guinea, West Africa.
Djun djun dance originates from the Susu people of the Boké region and the Baga people of the Boffa region of current-day Guinea. Djun djun dance is traditionally done only by females, and signifies the completion of rites of passage ceremonies for pre-adolescent Susu and Baga girls. Elder women of these communities escort young initiates into the bush, where they learn their ancestral ways of knowing and ways of being upstanding, contributing members of their societies. It is during this period the elders teach the initiates how to dance and drum djun djun in preparation for their reintroduction back into their communities.
All of the costumes are designed and made by Alseny Soumah. The colors red, black, green and white are traditionally worn by Susu and or Baga female initiates, who perform the djun djun dance as part of the rites of passage rituals. Stemming from a family of tailors, Alseny grew to value the traditions of his family and carries his cultural heritage forward. Every piece is carefully crafted to honor his culture.
Djun djun drum and dance
Fadima Traore • Mariama Bangora • Tamika Harris • Sonja Travick • Kamesha Fofana • Marie Mimi Soumah
Alseny Soumah (djun djun) • Mohammed Kouyate (djembe, balafon)