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Manimou Camara; West African Arts 

Submitted by Lisa Kwak on April 27, 2021 - 12:25pm

To celebrate and to recognize that the contributions of Black Americans should be appreciated beyond the month of February, the Department of Dance is using its website and social media platforms to spotlight a different Black dance artist in the greater Seattle area every month through 2021. >> Read February and March issues here. 

In April, we celebrate Manimou Camara. 

Manimou Camara Headshot

Manimou Camara (He/Him/They)

Manimou Camara's strength as a dynamic performing artist and teacher lies in his strong roots with some of Guinea, West Africa's most beloved performing groups, Ballet Merveille and Ballet Saamato (www.saamato.com). His primary percussion education was spent with Sekou Dico Sylla, Karamoko Daman (Karamo Dama, sangban recording artist for Mamady Keita), nationally recognized Ballet Saamato, and as lead Dundun player for Kemoko Sano's world reknowned Ballet Merveille. He began dancing as a young child at traditional Guerze ceremonies and then later at Malinke style Dundunba's in Conakry, Guinea's Capitol. 

In Seattle Manimou directs his own dance and percussion group Manimou Camara and Denbaya, he works with Spectrum Dance Theater as an Artist in Residence at Seattle public schools, as lead Djembe player for traditional music group Message from Guinea, and he teaches workshops at schools and universities throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah and California. He also teaches weekly drum and dance classes throughout the greater Seattle metropolitan area. Manimou lives to share his passion for dance, rhythms and life.  

Do you identify as Black? If so, what does being Black mean to you? How does Blackness inform your art? 

Yes, I was born Black. I was born in West Africa. I'm not sure how to answer this. I just am, and I make art. 

What inspired you to become a dancer?

I was inspired by my mother and my grandmother. I grew up watching them dancing and singing. 

What is one thing you would tell the younger version of you based on what you have learned in your journey? 

Be strong in your mind and keep learning. You can't imagine where you will go and what you will do. 

What is something in your career that you are proud of? 

I love when I have a student that eats up the dance. That makes me so happy. My student Kiné Camara is a good example of that. Students like her make me feel happy. 

What do you hope your legacy will be?

Happiness and joy! 

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