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Acclaimed Congolese artists in Steamboat Springs this week

Leader of the band
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— Keeping traditions alive, acclaimed Congolese artists, Mabiba Baegne and Teber Milandou Sita, will be in Steamboat Springs this weekend for a unique show and workshop.

“We don’t get artists from the Congo here on a regular basis,” said Jennie Lay, Steamboat African Dance & Drum Ensemble member who helped coordinate the event. “It’s a really special treat to have these master teachers here.”

On Tuesday, the Steamboat African Dance & Drum Ensemble and Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp will present community classes that radiate the complex rhythm and energy of an art form known as authentic Congolese music.



The drum class taught by Milandou Sita will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The dance class, led by Baegne, with live drumming will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Both classes will be held in the Steinberg Pavilion at Perry-Mansfield.

On Wednesday, Baegne, Milandou Sita and his band, the Tanbours Sans Frontiers — meaning, “drums without borders”— will perform a show that will meld traditional Congolese rhythms in addition to influences of Latin American music, West African pop, jazz, funk, rock and blues. The show will start at 7 p.m. at the Chief Theater.



Not only will the two events get people up and moving, but it’s an opportunity to learn about this culture with its longstanding history and stories behind it, Lay explained.

“To share my passion is important,” Milandou Sita said. “A lot people have a lot to say but no way to say it. This is my way to share a part of my country with fans and students.”

Milandou Sita started Tambour Sans Frontieres in 2002 and has played throughout West Africa, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal in addition to performing at clubs and festivals and honing his skills as a leader and teacher. In 2008, he and members of the group moved to Chicago, where he teaches Congolese drumming and dance.

Authentic Congolese music was played in Congo Square and New Orleans by slaves from the Congo then spread throughout the New World, Milandou Sita explained. Soon it morphed into rhumba, bomba, samba and other music.

“If I am drumming or dancing, I feel free,” Milandou Sita said. “It is my passion and my life. “The band was started for my country as something to give them and the young Congolese, to keep the traditions alive.”

Known as “Mama Mabiba,” Baegne has worked with Milandou Sita at various workshops or festivals and is an internationally acclaimed teacher, drummer and choreographer. She was one of the first women to teach this form of dancing in the U.S.

“I was born to dance,” Baegne said. “And I love going and discovering new places.”

This will be the Tanbours Sans Frontiers’ and Baegne’s first time in Steamboat Springs.

“This is really a special opportunity to bring them here and for us to be able to engage, hands on, and then see them perform,” Lay said.

Those interested in attending are advised to plan on dancing in bare feet and wearing comfortable clothes. Drum students should bring their own drum.

Classes are $15, cash or check, per class at the door. No pre-registration is necessary, and the classes are suitable for all experience levels.

The show at the Chief Theatre is $15. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.chieftheater.org.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1


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