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Interview with Djoniba Mouflet

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Interview with Djoniba Mouflet

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Interview with Djoniba Mouflet
Additional title: Jerome Robbins Archive of the Recorded Moving Image original documentation
Mouflet, A. Djoniba, 1961- (Interviewee)
Kamara, Kewulay (Interviewer)
Webb, Carolyn (Carolyn Jeannette) (Project director)
Niang, Mamadou (Videographer)
Mertz Gilmore Foundation (Presenter)
New York Public Library. Dance Division (Presenter)

African Dance Video Archive

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 2015-04-24
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZIDF 4119
Mouflet, A. Djoniba, 1961-
Djoniba Dance & Drum Centre
Dance -- Guinea
Music -- Guinea
Rites and ceremonies -- Guinea
Dance -- Africa, West
Music -- Africa, West
Folk dancing -- Guinea
Folk dancing -- Africa, West
Filmed dance
Filmed performances
Statement of responsibility: conducted by Kewulay Kamara ; 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: Video recorded by Mamadou Niang.
Performers: Interviewee, Djoniba Mouflet ; interviewer, Kewulay Kamara.
Venue: Videotaped during interview at the Djoniba Dance and Drum Centre, New York, N.Y. as part of the Mertz Gilmore Foundation funded African Dance Interview Project 2015 on 2015 April 24.
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 (71 min.) : sound, color
The interview begins with Djoniba Mouflet playing a djembe drum solo; Kewulay Kamara discusses the 1980's downtown African Dance scene at Lezly Dance and Skate School in New York; Djoniba talks about the cowrie shells he wore during that time; explains the meaning of his name; convincing Lezly to bring dance teachers to his skate school; how African dance and music developed in New York beginning in Brooklyn and Queens in 1961, and the importance of the African Pavillion at the 1964 New York World's Fair as the catalyst for greater interest in African dance in New York City; his upbringing in Martinique and being raised by his grandmother; how he started dancing; his childhood playing soccer, guitar, and reading Aimé Césaire at 9 or 10 years old; how Aimé Césaire launched the Black is Beautiful Movement along with Leopold Senghor (first President of Senegal); studying guitar at Sermac and being encouraged to join the dance class, which led to studying abroad in Senegal; talking about Keita Folaba, an African student at University of France in the 1950's who taught his village dances to peope from the Caribbean and Africa who were living in Paris at the time; Guinea becoming isolated after Sékou Touré (first president of Guinea) came to power; Touré bringing Folaba to Guinea as the Minister of Culture; Guinea dance company recruiting the best dancers from different ethnic groups and taking them to Conakry with Senegal and other African countries following this pattern; the French influence on African dance companies including the use of the term Ballet in company names; Maurice Bejart starting Mudra Afrique in Senegal which exposed Mouflet to many different styles of dance, including working with teachers from Bolshoi Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, Stanislavsky technique and with DouDou N'diaye Rose; his curiosity leading him to travel and participate in village Tanabers around Africa so he could completely immerse himself in customs and ceremonies; demonstrates the difference between Kutiro and Sabar dance; the influence of seeing the National Ballet of Guinea (Les Ballets Africains) perform; living with Miriam Makeba in Guinea, and through her meeting Sékou Touré, Kwame Turé /Stokely Carmichael, and Nina Simon; performing with the National Ballet of Guinea and the Army Ballet of Guinea; discovering the differences between village dance and performances on stage, and the differences in authentic, traditional, and choreographed African Dance; meeting Arthur Mitchell and coming to NYC on a three year scholarship to Dance Theatre of Harlem, Mitchell allowing him to teach African Dance and to choreograph on the second company; having limited African Dance in Manhattan when he arrived and it was all lumped in with Brazilian and Haitian dance under the title, Ethnic Dance, Queens had Nana Dinizulu, Brooklyn had the Armory with Imani Payne, Harlem had St. John the Divine with Chuck Davis, and downtown Manhattan had the Clark Center where Djoniba met Pat Hall Smith and studied Brazilian dance with Lorimil Machado and Haitian dance with Lavinia Williams; how they inherited dance due to the differences in slave treatment among French and English colonies, with the French colonies still having drums opposed to few drums in the English colonies; teaching at the Clark Center with Lavinia Williams and then at the Lezly Dance and Skate School; creating the first Afro Ethnic Workshop at the Lezly Dance and Skate School; producing his first show of Ballet Djoliba at Lezly Dance and Skate School; Djoniba's strength to teach beginning dancers by breaking down movements; his decision to open the Djoniba Dance and Drum Center; his philosphy/pedagogy of his center; his ideas for the future; and concludes with thanking Jan Schmidt (Curator, Dance Division, NYPL) and Carolyn Webb (project director).
Type of Resource
Moving image
RLIN/OCLC: 917907237
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b20764597
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): bbdfa5e0-4b66-0133-5b6d-60f81dd2b63c
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

  • 2015: Created
  • 2022: Found by you!
  • 2023

MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Djoniba Mouflet" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 2015.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Djoniba Mouflet" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed May 19, 2022.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (2015). Interview with Djoniba Mouflet Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (moving image) Interview with Djoniba Mouflet, (2015)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=May 19, 2022 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Interview with Djoniba Mouflet