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KanKouran West African Dance Company was founded for the purpose of contributing to the extension of the arts by introducing the essence of traditional African dancing and drumming to audiences; enriching American cultural heritage through the integration of authentic West African performing arts; and promoting intercultural understanding through education and the performing arts. KanKouran was formed in 1983, in Washington, DC, byArtistic Director Assane Konte and former Director of Music, Abdou Kounta, who grew up together in Dakar, Senegal. Throughout the last 30 years, KanKouran has established itself as a premier center for the study and performance of traditional West African dancing and drumming. KanKouran’s annual African dance and drum conference is the largest, longest-running gathering of student- through master-level African dancers and drummers in the U.S. The Company has also worked extensively to bring African dance and drum to children of all ages through various in-school and extra-curricular programs.
Assane Konte, a national of Senegal, West Africa, is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director, Choreographer, and Costume Designer for KanKouran West African Dance Company. His career as a professional dancer began at age 15 with the “Ballet Africaine de Diebel Guee” of Dakar, Senegal, with whom he performed for ten years. In 1978, following a tour in Cote d’Ivoire, Mr. Konte came to the United States to pursue a career as an independent performer and worked with numerous organizations as a musical arranger and choreographer. In 1983, Mr. Konte and Abdou Kounta, founded the KanKouran West African Dance Company, aimed at preserving and sharing Africa’s rich culture through dance and music. The company has performed at the White House and across the globe.