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Fatoumata Kouyate & Mabinty Sylla
Descended from a long line of griots, Fatoumata Kouyaté is a balafonist, singer, percussionist, founder of Groupe Djéliguinet et ses Enfants, member of the National Theatre Troupe of Guinea and Amazones Women Drummers.
The balafon is sacred in Guinea tradition and traditionally only played by men. The first balafon was made by the King of Susu (former African empire in the 11th century) and was given to the griot Balafaseke Kouyaté. The Kouyatés have been an important family of storytellers through the generations. Fatoumata is a direct descendant and one of the first African women to play the balafon, breaking an age-old taboo of the Manding Empire.
Born in Conakry, Guinea, Mabinty Sylla is a professional dancer, choreographer and teacher of West African dance. Before moving to Canada, Mabinty was a member of Ballet Tayeli, led by the great Guinean percussionist Mamadouba Camara, the first great soloist of Ballet Joliba.