March 12, 2004

Contact: Becca Ramspott, School of Fine Arts, (785) 864-5567.

KU world music concert brings Guinean dance troupe to Liberty Hall April 4

LAWRENCE -- The second annual World Music and Cultural Diversity Concert will celebrate multiculturalism at the University of Kansas and around the world with a special performance by dance troupe Les Ballets Africains at 5 p.m. Sunday, April 4, at Liberty Hall, 642 Massachusetts St.

Les Ballets Africains, the national dance company of the Republic of Guinea, is known internationally for its stunning performances of passion and beauty that depict the rich cultural traditions of Africa in a combination of theatrical dancing and drumming. The group will celebrate its 50th anniversary with dances by the Guinean poet and choreographer Keita Fodeba.

Lawrence's own New Dawn Native Dancers will provide the opening act for the concert, which this year celebrates the theme "Local and Global Connections."

The World Music and Cultural Diversity Concert "demonstrates, in a real way, how music plays an important role in most cultures," said Clarence Henry, KU assistant professor of ethnomusicology and the concert's founder. "People in cultures use music in many ways -- to reinforce ethnic and national pride and to express various emotions, such as happiness, sadness, hate and love."

Fodeba founded Les Ballets Africains in 1952 in France. Created at a time when many African countries were fighting colonialism, the group was brought together to showcase a vision of justice for Africa by celebrating the humanity of the black man through its choreography. The troupe initially was called Les Ballets Africains of Keita Fodeba. When the Republic of Guinea, an ancient colony of France, became independent in 1959, the name was changed to Les Ballets Africains, the National Ensemble of the Republic of Guinea, and the group was charged with the mission to be "Ambassadors of Culture."

The World Music and Cultural Diversity Concert aims to make people aware not only of cultures around the world but also of those found in their very own neighborhoods, Henry said, noting the variety of countries represented at KU and in Lawrence.

KU and Haskell University students, faculty and staff, and children 12 and under, will be admitted to the show free with proper identification. General admission is $7, and $3 for seniors. Tickets are available at the SUA box office in the Kansas Union, (785) 864-SHOW; they also are available at Liberty Hall.

For more information please contact the KU Department of Music and Dance, (785) 864-3436.

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