Yama Wade AKA Yama Reine de Sabar dances, teaches, thinks and writes about Sabar dance with such great passion, love and deep knowledge that it makes her truly unique. There are master dancers & drummers, of which she is a one, but she goes beyond in being a master teacher as well. We, as students of SABAR DANCE, are so lucky to have such a giving soul!
Recently she blogged the following. So brilliantly articulated, I asked her if I could share it in my blog, and she accepted.
“The first lesson one must learn in order to dance sabar is that of absolute truth: One has to seek it out/pursue it to understand its codes, its keys, before starting to practice it. In fact, sabar does not allow you to dance as you wish, such as using a Tcheboudjen break in Bara Mbaye or a Bara Mbaye break in Tcheboudjen , etc. The most unpleasant, most embarrassing moment for a lead drummer (the one who follows the dancer) is to be face to face with a dancer who uses breaks from start to finish – meaning that from the beginning to the end of his/her solo, everything is cut up. There are no Ndior (succession of the 5 steps) with turns; just breaks. And all this means is that the dancer never finishes his/her phrase and is not being clear at all. This prevents the drummers from expressing themselves, although they too have something to say, they too seek a pleasurable experience. To dance like this is to completely disregard them. At this point one can no longer speak of communion, of dialog between dancer and drummer. It’s as though just the dancer is speaking, although he/she is saying nothing clear, nothing smooth, nothing interesting and profound which really touches. I understand that dancing sabar this way is easier: Doing the same thing over and over, breaking, starting over, breaking, restarting, breaking…there isn’t a single complete sentence. On the other hand, when one executes an expression of Bara Mbaye for example, starting off with an introduction, then developing widely to establish a dialog with the musician, then ending one’s ‘speech’ with a break which speaks to the good camaraderie between the musician and the dancer is not at everyone’s disposal if one has not been trained to truly comprehend sabar, and not been trained in the true pursuit of sabar.
Therefore one cannot come ‘speak’ in the circle and start with a break, or do two or three breaks after each 5 steps, and end with a break. Not only would one dance poorly but it will be the same conversation each time. It’s exhausting. There exists a thousand ways to express oneself when one dances sabar and to do so one has to be less selfish and remain in total symbiosis with the musicians.
If one is not trained to truly comprehend sabar, one cannot come into the circle. Last year I saw 4 boys, aged 14 to 17, dance a sabar that transported me in an ocean of immense pleasure. True happiness. This proves that sabar has never left its place. Sabar is always seated at the same place and it satisfies all dancers who accept to go meet it where it lies. It doesn’t move. It follows no one. From our ancestors to today, it has not mutated, it has not changed and will never change. Learn to know it, learn to understand its codes, its demands, and its complexity in order to fully take advantage of it. I consider that any dancer who places 3 breaks in their solos is not a good sabar dancer. He is just gesticulating.” ~Yama (translation into English from French by Magali Regis)
Please visit Yama’s website to see her videos, blog posts and news about classes and workshops at http://yamareinedesabar.com/
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