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Interview with Marie Basse Wiles

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Interview with Marie Basse Wiles
Additional title: Jerome Robbins Archive of the Recorded Moving Image original documentation
Basse-Wiles, Marie (Interviewee)
Basse-Wiles, Marie (Performer)
Webb, Carolyn (Carolyn Jeannette) (Project director)
Webb, Carolyn (Carolyn Jeannette) (Interviewer)
Bernadi, François (Videographer)
Mertz Gilmore Foundation (Presenter)
New York Public Library. Dance Division (Presenter)

African Dance Video Archive

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 2014-08-26
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZIDF 4094
Basse-Wiles, Marie
National Ballet of Senegal
Bambara (African people)
Dance -- Senegal -- Dakar
Music -- Senegal -- Dakar
Dance -- Mali
Music -- Mali
Filmed dance
Filmed performances
Statement of responsibility: conducted by Carolyn Webb ; project director, Carolyn Webb.
Content: Widescreen.
Statement of responsibility: This interview was made possible by the cooperation of the Jerome Robbins Archive of the Recorded Moving Image, Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library.
Creation/production credits: Videographer, François Bernadi.
Performers: Interviewee, Marie Basse Wiles ; interviewer, Carolyn Webb.
Venue: Videotaped during interview at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, New York. N.Y., as part of the Mertz Gilmore Foundation funded African Dance Interview Project 2014 August 26.
Funding: This recording was made possible by Mertz Gilmore Foundation.
Funding: African Dance Interview Project funded by the Mertz Gilmore Foundation.
Physical Description
Born digital
Extent: 1 video file (66 min.) : sound, color
Marie Basse Wiles discusses her interest in fabric and fashion from Senegal; her childhood in her birthplace Dakar, Senegal; dance being an integral part of her household; learning traditional dances and songs of the Bambara people from her Malian born grandmother, Maimouna Keita; dancing as a youth with the family for Bara community celebrations; differences she observed in Senegal and Mali; her favorite dance, the Malakadon; how the Genefole dance of Mali, and the Nip dance from Senegal both have a spiritual healing purpose; dancing with several regional companies before joining the Ballet National of Senegal; her family's resistance to her touring; auditioning for the Ballet National of Senegal with the Bougarabou dance; crediting Oumi Sene as her Sabar and Serer teacher; dancing with the Ballet National of Senegal for twelve years; the company being well supported by the first President of Senegal, Leopold Sedar Senghor; what makes a great African dancer; the importance of continued research and learning cultural dances in the context of each ethnic group; coming to the United States when she was performing with Ibrahima Camara at Disney's African Pavilion, in California, in 1981; meeting her drummer husband Olukose Wiles; getting married in 1982 and founding their company, The Maimouna Keita African Dance Company in 1983; recalling her first dance classes in New York City at the Armory in Brooklyn; Maimouna Keita African Dance Company celebrating its 22nd Annual Dance Conference and concert in April 2014; needing patience to keep a company alive and thriving for 30 years; her commitment to sharing her knowledge with everyone that embraces African dance and culture; how African dance classes in the 1980's and 1990's were more popular then now and how it is up to the dance community elders to draw the new generation back in; Wiles explains the meaning of the Malakadon dance and demonstrates steps that express welcome and bringing people together from that dance; sings a Lamban song; talks about how the words of a song can inspire choreography; learning how to adjust her teaching style for the diverse students in her classes, what she wants them to learn, and some of her teaching methods; the importance of understanding the language of the drum, the rhythm, and the conversation between musician and dancer; the traditional outfit worn for the Lamban dance; how Lamban is performed for the king and queen; the obstacles African women face trying to survive in the New York City dance world; how her teaching career began at the National Ballet of Senegal while teaching other company members various ethnic dances; giving homage to the legendary drummer Papa Ladji Camara and long-time Senegal to America dance friend Malang Bayo; similarities in traditional dances from Senegal and dances of current American popular culture; her advice for young artists to learn the traditional dances first and then to create their own work on top of that foundation; Wiles demonstrating a movement from the Bougarabou dance; and the interview concludes with the statement, "African dance is beautiful".
Type of Resource
Moving image
RLIN/OCLC: 902738344
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b20524254
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 76ea5420-9e8a-0132-ce84-3c075448cc4b
Rights Statement
This item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Item timeline of events

  • 2014: Created
  • 2023: Found by you!
  • 2024

MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Marie Basse Wiles" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 2014.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Marie Basse Wiles" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 27, 2023.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (2014). Interview with Marie Basse Wiles Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (moving image) Interview with Marie Basse Wiles, (2014)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=March 27, 2023 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Interview with Marie Basse Wiles