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18 October 2012

Young Artist Spotlight: Jeh Kulu Junior

Jeh Kulu Jr. is one component of Jeh Kulu Dance and Drum Theater, which has been teaching, performing and celebrating traditional West African music and dance in the Burlington area since 1993. In the Bambara language of Mali, ‘Jeh Kulu’ means ‘community’ and this is exactly what the group hopes to build.  They bring together people of all ages and backgrounds to honor the joyous traditions of West Africa.

Jeh Kulu Jr. benefits from the teaching and mentoring of several well-known master artists from Guinea, and many highly-trained American artists, all with extensive experience in the art form. The group has been a winner at the annual Young Tradition Weekend in May, and have appeared at several YTV showcase events (click here for a clip of them performing at the YTV showcase at the Richmond Farmer’s Market this past summer).  Several of group members have attended YTV’s Trad Camp, and several of their mentors, teachers and parents have taught and performed at Trad Camp.  Jeh Kulu Jr. will be one of the featured performers at the annual Young Tradition Reunion at the Flynn on January 4th.

The Jeh Kulu vision is to raise cultural awareness, create a sense of community, and, at the same time, have fun! Jeh Kulu Jr. is comprised of several talented young drummers, singers and dancers who focus on traditional rhythms and dances from Guinea, Senegal and Mali.

Jeh Kulu presents a Dance and Drum Festival on the first full weekend of every November, where they gather world-renowned teachers and musicians in downtown Burlington for four days of dancing and drumming.  The festival is one of the nation’s longest running West African Dance conferences, where participants come to help shake the rest of the leaves off the trees!  The festival includes dance and drum classes in Djembe, Sabar, Kutiro, Krin, Balafon, Doun Doun, Women’s Sangban, and a traditional ballet presented by Jeh Kulu Dance and Drum Theater and special guests at City Hall.  Also included is a Saturday night dance party at local hot spot.