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Interview with Nadia Dieudonne

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Interview with Nadia Dieudonne
Additional title: Jerome Robbins Archive of the Recorded Moving Image original documentation
Dieudonné, Nadia (Interviewee)
Webb, Carolyn (Carolyn Jeannette) (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: 2015-05-16
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZIDF 4120
Dieudonné, Nadia
Dorisme, Myriam
Dance -- Haiti
Music -- Haiti
Rites and ceremonies -- Haiti
Folk dancing -- Haiti
Folk dancing, Haitian
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: Video recorded by Mamadou Niang.
Performers: Interviewee, Nadia Dieudonne ; interviewer, Carolyn Webb.
Venue: Videotaped during interview at the Studio, New York, N.Y., as part of the Mertz Gilmore Foundation funded African Dance Interview Project 2015 on 2015 May 16.
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 (57 min.) : sound, color
Nadia Dieudonne mentions her graditute to the New York Public Library (and Mertz Gilmore Foundation) for documenting dance artists of the African diaspora; Dieudonne discusses her childhood and her parents moving from Haiti to Brooklyn, New York one year before her birth; being immersed in the Haitian culture through church, community and listening to her mother sing traditional folk songs and her father playing traditional voudo records; meeting and dancing with Myriam Dorisme (folk singer & activist), the dances she taught Dieudonne, and the awareness of musicality Dieudonne acquired from her; how Dieudonne began performing in local talent shows in elementary school and church; remaining connected with Dorisme even as she began exploring dance, music, and culture with other artists; crediting Dorisme with developing her ear to hear the traditional rhythms inside the instrumentation, keyboard, guitar, drums, and bass that Dorisme incorporated in her music; Dorisme exposing her students to the most popular traditional dances of Port-au-Prince, and using dance instructors including Maggie Brevil and Jacques Barbot to teach choreography and technique, using rhythms included Yanvalou, Ibo, Nago, Parigol, Mahi, and Banda; describing Haitian folklore and how it delevoped from traditional Voudo songs, dances and rhythms and the differences between Haitian Voudo rituals and Haitian folklore; using these traditional dances and songs in her choreography to present them in a creative manner for the theater; discusses Voudo ritual practices not being rehearsed but having an order that is led by the Houngan or Mambo with the dancers moving in accordance with the drum breaks; studying drumming with Frasner Augustin at Complete Studio in Brooklyn which helped her to understand the connection between dancers and drummers; performing with Frisner's company, La Troupe Makadal, while in high school, after being noticed by Smith Destin (Smitty) when performing with Tabou Combo; dancing professionally at the age of twelve with Myriam Dorisme, and this leading to performing with racine bands including Rara Machine, Jephte Guillaume, Loray Mistic, Kilti Chok, Azor, Boulo Valcourt, Dadi Beaubrun, and Jimmy Jean Felix; defining racine music as root music with musicians taking traditional Voudo songs and drumming which they combine with electric guitar, keyboard, bass, and drums, then fuse the traditional Haitian sound with influences of American and European jazz, rock, and pop; what led her to create her own companies, by establishing the adult company in 1994 and after a concert series in Prospect Park, Brooklyn entitled, Belle Ti Ayiti, creating her children's company in 1995 with cultural pride being the most important issue she teaches children; performing with her adult company [Feet of Rhythm] at Lincoln Center, Jacob's Pillow, Summer Stage, LIU [at Kumbole Theatre], numerous other colleges, cultural events, and abroad; her dance entitled, Heritage, and the different rhythms used in that choreographic work including Yanvalou, Parigol, Combit Nago, Ibo, Petwo, Banda, and Rara; Dieudonne noting that Haitian history and culture has been passed down orally through folktales called Kric Krak, and how she would like to create productions using these folktales; the influence of Jean Léon Destiné; discusses traditional Haitian rhythms being divided into Rada and Petwo rhythms; her favorite Haitian Dance which depends on her mood, or what she is trying to represent when performing; how she became known for her Banda dance; the influence of Jean Claude, a teacher at Lezly's who showed the distinction between the male and female styles of movement; studying and dancing with Djoniba, and Dinizulu African Dancers Drummers and Singers where she learned dances from Ghana and South African from teachers brought in from the National Theatre of Ghana; meeting many West African Dancers including Marie Basse-Wiles and Lamine [Thiam]; working with LaRocque Bey in Harlem, and The Charles Moore Dance Company; working with La Mora [Danyz Perez] and traveling to Cuba for research; her education and working as a bilingual teacher combining dance with her love for children, and receiving a Master's degree from NYU's Steinhardt School; her research and dance experiences in Haiti with Lavinia Williams at the Haitian Institute of Folklore and Classic Dance, Vivian Gautier, and Peniel Guerrier; what keeps drawing her back to Haiti; teaching and rehearsing at the Charles Moore Studio; advice for anyone starting a dance company; hosting the TV show Creole Mix; places to take Haitian dance classes in New York; and concludes with the changes in the Pan African dance scene since the 80's and 90's.
Type of Resource
Moving image
RLIN/OCLC: 917908413
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b20764601
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): c91da630-4b66-0133-0db6-60f81dd2b63c
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
  • 2023: Found by you!
  • 2024

MLA Format

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

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Nadia Dieudonne" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed December 6, 2023.

APA Format

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

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (moving image) Interview with Nadia Dieudonne, (2015)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=December 6, 2023 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Interview with Nadia Dieudonne