West African countries Senegal and Gambia have it all : gorgeous coastlines, a busy capital in Senegal ( and a sleepy one in Gambia), and both have many ethnic groups with different dances, rythmes and languages. We have chosen Gambia (officially known as The Gambia) where many people speak English because this will make many more conversations possible for Americans. Like in Senegal, many people also speak Wolof, French, Mandingo, Diola and many more languages. West Africans are very multilingual !
We will begin our trip by celebrating New years Eve in Dakar ! It promises to be different and more dynamic than anything you've ever experienced in the US ! After a lazy morning we will take a historical visit to Goree Island, one of history's largest slave trading centers on the African coast :
followed by Kinta Kinte Memorial in Gambia :
We will then jump into the heart of the dance and drum workshop at the Kunta Kinte Roots Camp less than a mile from the Memorial.
Kunta Kinte Memorial
We will spend four nights at Kunta Kinte Roots Camp. Each morning we will propose a 2 hour dance class followed by a 2 hour drum class followed by lunch, rest then 'dance and douns' or visits late afternoon. One afternoon we will visit the Kinta Kinte historical site just next door. Classes will be multi-level, adapting to the participants. We will be in the country, surrounded by villages and located next to the Gambia River. There is a swimming pool to relax between and after classes. The food is served buffet style, with a choice of Western and African dishes.
After this initiation, we will move to Manjai Kunda after visiting Sayna village and beach, to join a professional dance and drum company, Allah Leake, where each person will choose to focus on dance or drum. The company has a Guinean repertory with Guinean and Gambian dancers. We will work directly with the dancers and musicians in order to participate in one of their performances on the last evening of the workshop. Participation is optional although highly encouraged ! Meals will be prepared by Gambian, Senegalese and Guineans and a more traditional cuisine will be offered, giving us the opportunity to taste different specialities of West Africa. You can eat African style, in an individual plate or in a common plate with a spoon...or all of the above !
Manjai Kunda is a small city located very close to the beach. Rehearsals start at 9:00 and finish around 1-2 pm and the rest of the day can spent on or around the beach which is very beautiful and clean. There is also a touristic section called Sine-Gambia, full of bars, restaurants and cyber-cafés for those who want to go out in the afternoons or evenings and listen to (more) live music.
The workshop costs includes all classes and artistic events , entrances to historical sites, all transportation (within sites and between Dakar -Gambia), meals and lodging.
Not included are :
Gambian visa ( between $35-50 at the border, certainly more expensive online beforehand)
Vaccinations, Malaria treatment (optional)
Individual insurance ( optional)
Water, drinks, snacks between meals ( A 10 gallon bottle costs $2 )
The plane ticket ( we can look for group rates if we have enough early sign ups)