Futa Toro West African Dance Ensemble
A Futa Toro performance is a celebration of color, sound, movement and spirit. It is a vibrant, handclapping event that transports the audience to a distant West Africa village. It begins with a 'drum call,' using a traditional West African rhythm, such as Sunu (soo-noo), to signal everyone within hearing that a celebration is about to begin. Group leader Malik Sow helps the audience understand the customs, attire and lifestyle of the people of West Africa. The instruments used in the performance include a djunjun (jun jun), or bass drum; two djimbe (gem bay) drums which play the accompaniment patterns and lead parts; and a shekere (shay ker ay), a gourd rattle covered with a netting of beads.
Dance is an integral aspect of the music, not a separate piece. One of the most popular dances is the tague (tah gay) which is performed before the planting and after the harvesting of the crops. Another dance, the doumb, challenges the skill of the performers with intricate dance steps performed at rapid tempos. The audience is invited to participate with rhythmic claps and call and response songs, as well as in the dancing.