With the power of music and dance, students at Emerson J. Dillon Middle School recently learned the value in understanding culture and diversity.
Biboti Ouikahilo, a professional percussionist and native of the Ivory Coast, West Africa, recently visited the school to lead an African drumming and dance workshop, much to the pleasure of the participating students.
Ouikahilo began the workshop by discussing his upbringing in the Ivory Coast and discussed some of the cultural differences between Africa and the United States, including a significant language contrast.
“The Ivory Coast was actually colonized by the French, so I actually grew up speaking the French language,” Ouikahilo said. “When I moved (to the United States) in 1997, I started to learn English. I lived in New York City for many years and then moved to Syracuse.”
Wearing bright colored traditional clothing, Ouikahilo captivated his audience by showcasing African dancing and drumming.
Ouikahilo displayed his talents as a percussionist, playing as many as six different kinds of drums throughout the workshop.
Students were then afforded the opportunity to play the drums.
Under the direction of Ouikahilo, students utilized techniques such as rhythms, melody, harmony and basses to create authentic African drumming.
Ouikahilo then showcased some traditional African dances, and had the students mimic his movements.
The goal of the dances, according to Ouikahilo, is to inspire individuals to move their body to the beat of the drums.