September 18, 2011

"San" but really Nioro

In this post I would like to share two wonderful videos from Mali. Both are by a 'troupe' from San, a town (or village?) in the Ségou region.

Ségou may be known as the historic heart of the Bambara empire, it is also a region with a large cultural variety and diversity. A diversity that has been eminently exploited by great stars like Hawa Dramé and Safoura Denou & Seny Sangaré.

In this case I have been told that the songs are both Sarakolé traditionals. The first song, "Danama", has also been interpreted by another Malian diva, the great Mah Damba, on her very first cassette. And I am sure I have heard the second song performed by another singer, somewhere, sometime (please help me out here...).

I love the almost informal 'ambience' and the sheer fun of these two songs, and more particularly the dancing. The men take turns in showing of their skills, almost in a peacock manner. And the women in turn react (when they feel like it) by joining them. And the dance itself has absolutely nothing to do with the over the top dancing that is sometimes presented as "the" African dancing.

Although I have had this video for over twenty years I keep discovering new details. I refer to the reactions by the participants of the troupe, and not to the curtain, - which has of course seen some great acts over the years (you may remember this video, and I´m sure you´ll find more examples on Ngoni´s great Youtube channel).

The second song starts of in a much slower tempo, which reminds me of Hawa Dramé. But then it gradually gathers speed until, after 4'20, it switches into another rhythm, and a more peacocky dancing ensues. What a delight!

EDIT/CORRECTION: January 15, 2012: A comment on YouTube, plus the find of a video by "Les artistes de San" have urged me to investigate the origin of the groupe in these two videos.
This research has led to the correction posted here.

The videos in this post are in fact from a groupe from Nioro, in the Kayes region and near the Mauretanian border. As to the cultural origins of the music it seems likely the comment on YouTube may be right that group is Bella (i.e. maure).


Anonymous said...

I get the feeling that it is a professional troupe representing different types of folklore, that kind of dance I had identified as Maure, in Danama they speak Bamana(some words seems Sonraï)but the Sarakole will never use another language in their folklore.

In Regil I can understand that they say applaud Bamana women, applaud Maraka(Sarakole)women but that does not identify the style.

I have another video not identifying in this style (also sing titiri-ti!) I'll look for.

As another artist to sing Regil, perhaps the beginning of the song is part of a song of Khaira Arby.

WrldServ said...

@Ngoni: Perhaps I should have been clearer. By "I have been told" I mean "I have been told by Sarakolé from the Ségou region" (in fact my late ex-father-in-law).

As to the troupe being professional, I don't doubt this, but don't think I stated they weren't. The informality and fun don't - and shouldn't - clash with this (I hope).

Anonymous said...

Folklore is the popular expression of a people, sometimes folklore migrating from one ethnic to another, as the use of the neighborhood makes them permiable.

It is difficult sometimes to identify the folklore of some peoples who share territory, when a wedding for example, neighbors of the family at times of other ethnicities are invited to the party, the only way that I have to identify them is the language, because as a sign of identity is required for use in an intimate celebration.

Being a professional folklore group discredits not at all, even can enrich, through research and knowledge, the problem is for us who can lose the key to identify the language if we have not other references.

To me that dance was so far Maure, but the great ancient empire of the Soninke (Sarakole) occupied a large part of Mauritania, perhaps Maureen collected this dance from the ancient Soninké.

grooVemonzter said...

These old video selections are amazing. I love watching them. Thank you for posting these gems.

Anonymous said...

I found it!

This video is very similar to Regil, a little more modern and without the evocative singer, but also interesting.

In the first comment I forgot the verse that says Soraka = (Maure) women clap.