All Grade Levels, West African Dance and Music
DISCIPLINE // West African Dance and Music
TEACHING ARTIST STATEMENT // Heidi has always been an artist. She studied piano from a young age and continued on to get her Master’s degree in Piano Performance from UM. Heidi has studied many forms of dance throughout her life, but fell in love with West African dancing in her native California. She began studying Congolese dancing in 2002 and shortly after, dance from Guinea. Over the past 14 years, Heidi has frequently attended African drum and dance camps, such as Mini-Guinea, Camp Saamato and Camp Fareta and travels to Seattle, where many professional artists live to take classes. When artists come to Missoula, she is always there to learn more.
In December 2015, Heidi traveled with artist and friend, Manimou Camara to Guinea for an intensive 6 week dance study. She then returned to Guinea in the summer of 2016 to spend 2 months with her husband, Oumar Keita. In that time, she worked closely with members of Ballet Saamato and Ballet Djoliba every day and was given the opportunity to dance with Ballet Saamato at their rehearsals. She was also fortunate enough to travel around Guinea and learn about the Susu, Malinke and Guerze ethnic groups. Much of her knowledge of Guinean culture, comes from her husband, a professional artist of the national ballets in Conakry, Guinea. He is a drummer and dancer, as well as a singer. He plays several traditional instruments to accompany his singing, such as the bolon and gnongama.
Heidi and Oumar belong to the community group Djebe Bara. Djebe Bara directly supports artists from Africa by bringing them to our community. They host weekly dance classes and perform around Missoula. An integral part of this group since 2009, Heidi is one of the regular dance teachers.
Together, Heidi and Oumar enjoy sharing the cultural traditions from Guinea, West Africa, particularly music and dance. Heidi takes great pride in sharing accurate information about her husband’s culture and is thrilled to have him help facilitate her teaching in schools. Oumar is happy to share his culture.
ARTIST STATEMENT // “I believe that music and dance are important for the growth of our children. Dancing, particularly those from Guinea, are an excellent way to get children to stay active while also exposing them to the richness of other cultures. One of my favorite aspects of sharing dance is seeing the smiles on their faces when they hear drums and get to learn corresponding movements.”
PROGRAM DESCRIPTION // Long and short-term dance and music residencies.
GRADE LEVELS // K-12
CONTACT INFORMATION // (916) 532-8678 / Email
“The children learned so much and you did a great job. It was perfect for kindergarten, with the singing, dancing and pictures it was split up nicely and kept the kids attention. Being aware of other cultures and learning how we are alike and different is such a gift! Thank you!” – MCPS, Kindergarten Teacher
BADGES EARNED //
The Kennedy Center Foundation in Arts Integration: 2016