Markus teaching at The 92nd Street Y's Harkness Dance Center. Photo courtesy of The Ailey School

In Andrea Markus' West African class at The Ailey School in New York City, listening is just as important as moving. “My goal is to get them to really listen for what makes each rhythm distinct," she says. As her 7- to 8-year-old students sing, hear the drummer and then dance the steps, they become familiar with two to three djembe rhythms each year. “If you break it down and repeat it every week, the things they can do by the end of the year are impressive," Markus says.

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KanKouran West African Dance Company hosts its 33rd annual dance and drum conference, Diamono (meaning “roots”), September 2–4 in Washington, DC. Master dance teachers and musicians from Mali, Senegal, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea, including KanKouran artistic director Assane Konte, will conduct three days of classes. A concert will be held Saturday, September 3, at 8 pm. Kankouran.org

KanKouran West African Dance Company

Photo by Andrew Foster, courtesy of KanKouran West African Dance Company

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Photo by Kyle Froman

Maguette Camara was raised in Dakar, Senegal, where he studied West African dance and drumming with Ballet Bougarabou Dance Company. Now, he lives in New York City, where he's on faculty at The Ailey School, The Ailey Extension, Barnard College and Djonibo Dance Centre at Peridance Capezio Centre. Here, he teaches a Kuku combination, which is danced to acknowledge community members' accomplishments.

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