Tuesday, January 22, 2013

African Dancing - Assane Thiam Contemporary Sabar Dance Group (Senegal)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases four videos of Senegal, West Africa's Assane Thiam Contemporary Sabar Dance Group. Information about tama drums and links to information about Sabar dancing are also provided in this post.

The content of this post is presented for historical, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

"A member of Youssou N'Dour's band since the mid-'70s, Assane Thiam is one of the foremost masters of the tama (talking drum). According to, Assane's "reputation as a virtuoso tama player is similar to the reputation of a western guitarist like Jimi Hendrix." Thiam played an important role in the early development of Senegal's pop-like mbalax music, forming Etoile De Dakar, with percussionist Babacar Faye, in 1975. With the arrival of N'Dour two years later, the group was re-christened Super Etoile De Dakar. In addition to his work with N'Dour, Thiam lent his melodic tama playing to albums by Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, and Harry Belafone. On his own, he's continued to explore traditional Wolof chanting. Together with his brother, Yamar Thiam, a popular session player in Finland, Thiam formed an 18 piece ensemble of tama players and dancers."
"Popularly known as the talking drum because of its ability to mimic and articulate speech, the tama drum can be found throughout West Africa in different contexts, manifestations and names such as dundun in Nigeria (Euba 1990). The talking drum plays a crucial role in ceremonies and festivities such as weddings, life-cycle events, child-naming ceremonies, and wrestling matches. The instrument and its cultural relevance carry over into popular music genres as a marker of identity and vibrant connection between traditional practices and modernity. For example, the tama can be found in the popular music of Senegal such as mbalax (a blend of traditional Senegalese sabar drumming, Afro-Cuban music, African pop, and western pop). Likewise, the dundun in the jùjú music is prominent in Nigerian night life, ariya weddings, birthdays and funerals (Waterman 1990). Internationally, the tama can be heard in groups led by Senegalese Baaba Maal and Youssou N'Dour or in various world beat ensembles."

Example #1: assane thiam-mame

joemame1, Uploaded on Dec 29, 2008
tama, mbalakh, sabar
Here's an excerpt from a thesis written by Sophie Schouwenaar(now Sophie Ndoye) which provides information about the role of men in Sabar dancing:
"...For the Senegalese, shifted gender relations are more easily accepted. Men who dance are now tolerated, people seem to ignore the non-masculine nature of their dancing and the fact that traditionally, sabar dancing is considered women’s affairs...

Nonetheless, sabar events are still relatively intimate women’s domains, even though they take place outside the private bonds of the household and men penetrate in these domains. The female spectators function as a wall around the dance floor where women behave in sexual explicit and provocative ways, against curious eyes from the outside world. Because of the increased interest in sabar events and the fact that most sabar events are organized by and for women, these sabar events will probably not disappear, but only expand from its origin. Therefore, sabar has become more pluriform."

Example #2: assane thiam-tama

joemame1, Uploaded on Jun 8, 2010
sabar, mbalakh

Example #3: Assane Thiam Sabar Dance

Amy Secada, Uploaded on Nov 8, 2011
Assane Thiam Contemporary Sabar Dance Groupe captured in the streets of Dakar, Senegal 2011

Example #4: Assane Thiam Contemporary Sabar Groupe

Amy Secada, Uploaded on Nov 8, 2011
Senegals most famous sabar group Assane Thiam captured dancing on the beachs of Dakar, Senegal 2011

RELATED LINKS Senegalese Music & Dance Videos
Sabar Accompaniment to the Wrestling Matches and Lion Dances of Senegal

Thanks to and the other performers in these featured videos. My thanks also to those authors whose information I quote and to the uploaders of these featured sound file and videos.

Also, thank you for visiting pancocojams.

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