Texas Folklife presents its newest apprenticeship project in West African dance at Houston Community College’s"Movement Evolution: New Traditions in World Dance"
Texas Folklife and the World Dance Program at Houston Community College (HCC) announce a not-to-be-missed night of authentic, regional dance performance from Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa featuring three artists taking part in its Apprenticeship Program. The Texas Folklife Apprenticeship Program makes it possible for master artists to share their art forms with other artists who are interested in honing their craft or exploring a new art form. Since last August, apprentices Julie and Gabriel Bata of Houston have been studying the Zaouli and Aloukou dances with Master Artist Jean-Claude Lessou. Zaouli is a masquerade dance originating from the Gouro ethnic group and is performed as a solo by a masked character representing a beautiful djinn or spirit. Julie Bata’s performance of this dance is unique because Zaouli is typically only performed by men of the region. Zaouli’s popularity rose among the many masquerade traditions in Côte d’Ivoire after the country’s independence in the early 1960’s and the interest of their first president Félix Houphouët-Boigny. Aloukou, a full moon dance originating from Mr. Lessou’s own Gagou ethnic group, is used to celebrate social occasions and celebrations and is rarely performed in the U.S.
About the Master Artist:
Master artist, Jean-Claude Lessou was born and raised in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. He began dancing professionally at age 15 performing with the Dante Theater Company and later, as a principal dancer with Ballet Jolem, toured the U.S. Lessou has performed at such prestigious venues as the Kennedy Center and taught dance and drum camps for numerous arts organizations and colleges including Goddard, Saint Michael’s, Middlebury ,and Texas Woman’s University. He was the lead choreographer for Lannaya West African Drum and Dance Ensemble (TX) and currently teaches throughout Austin in schools and private studios.