We met Oumou Faye while travelling in California. We were so impressed with her dancing that we have invited her to teach at Camp Samatou this year.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Dakar, the capital city of Senegal. I belong to the Fulani ethnic group.
When did you start dancing?
I have been dancing for as long as I can remember! Many people in my family were dancers – my older brother, sister and aunty. We lived as a family in the ‘Maison des Artistes’ so I was around drum and dance all the time. Many of the artists worked at Sorano, the National Theatre of Dakar and we had many artists coming through from other parts of West Africa. That’s how I learnt dances from Guinea and Mali as well as traditional Senegalese dance.
When I was 11 years old I started my own group and we used to perform at birthday parties.
How long have you been teaching dance?
I first started teaching dance to foreigners at the age of 14 so it has been a long time! I began teaching in the US in 2010
Where do you live now?
I live in Santa Cruz, California, where I teach and perform regularly. My husband, Mbor Faye, is a drummer and we work together a lot. I met my husband in Senegal in 1995 when we were both in an ensemble called Ballet Afrique Noir and we live here with our two children.
What do you like about dancing?
Dancing makes me so happy. It reminds me of my life in Africa and of my family. I love to share my culture with other people.