In the Bambara language, Taafé fanga means “loincloth power,” in other words the strength of women. At the group’s origins, there were indeed three women with a passion for West African dance: Karine Hamel, Estelle Lavoie and Julie de Lorimier. What really got the group going was their encounter with three devotees of percussions: Antoine Geoffroy-Chaput and the brothers Benjamin and Olivier Landry. In Québec or during their travels, they learned West African rhythms with a range of masters from ballet companies or orchestras in Guinea, Mali or Senegal. They achieved proficiency with djembes, doudouns and krins.
Together, they created shows that were both personal and respectful of tradition, where dance and percussions dialogue with contagious energy. Estelle Lavoie, a classical guitarist by training, learned to play the kora and thus embodies the union of dance and melody in the group.
Since Taafé Fanga’s early days, two griots have joined the group. First, Sadio Sissokho, who arrived in Montréal from Dakar in 2003, benefits the group with his charismatic voice and presence as well as being heard on the djembe, doudouns and sabars. Then came Diely Mori Tounkara, a master of the kora from a line of griots in Mali. His arrival in the group in 2007 and his many talents (balafon, doudouns, sabars) have greatly enriched the group’s compositions.
Taafé Fanga has stood out on the stages of many festivals and has refined its music and its performances through internships, travels and collaborations with renowned artists (including, in Montréal, Billy Konaté, Mohamed N’Diaye, Moussa Traoré and the Timinandi troupe, Élage Diouf, Karim Diouf, Kissima Diabaté and Sékouba Condé). Melody has played a growing role in their repertory, separately from their stage performances, and they recorded an initial album in 2012, Tamala. But it is on stage that their art can be fully appreciated, with the powerful dynamic that Taafé Fanga has established between dance and music. Their passionate performances, bursting with vitality, leave nobody indifferent!