Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Spirit of Africa at Parc de la Villette

Paris' Parc de la Villette is celebrating culture in a big way this summer.  Since July 10th, this complex of lawns, gardens, concert halls, exhibit spaces, museums, and theaters has welcomed visitors to Scènes d'Eté (Scenes of Summer)—an astounding series of concerts, workshops, expositions, and films that provide something for everyone to enjoy.  A large number of the activities will evoke the food, folklore, and music of Africa.

 La Grande Halle
© Discover Paris!

Today, my husband Tom and I had the great pleasure to see the Drum Masters of Burundi perform on the lawn to the right of the Grande Halle.  I cannot remember the last time that I have seen performers give so much of themselves as these men did today.  The rhythms...the chants...the movements...all were spellbinding!  After about a half-hour of performing on the lawn, they "took the show on the road," walking around the park leading a parade of visitors.

  Maîtres Tambours de Burundi
© Discover Paris!

We had hoped to attend a cooking demonstration of African cuisine today, but did not realize that we needed to reserve.  Nor did we realize that the event costs 12 euros per person.  When we arrived at the park, we were told that the class was full!  On the menu were:

Plantains drizzled with bissap tea
Fish Saka-Saka (fish with crushed manioc leaves)
Mango with citrus coulis
Ginger juice

Celebrity actress Fatou N'Diaye was supposed to be at the event, but we'll never know if she appeared this week.

The demonstration will be held again next Sunday, so hopefully we will be able to attend then.

Music All et les Illuminés "Black Stamp" gave a free concert of jazz, soul, funk, R and B, and hip hop at the Prairie du Cercle Sud stage late this afternoon.

The Cabaret Sauvage theater held events devoted to Malian culture the entire weekend.  There was an African marketplace in the area between the theater and the canal.  On Friday, there were two art workshops for children and an Afro Hip Hop concert.  On Saturday, there were cooking demonstrations, Malian storytelling, and a Malian fusion concert.  This evening, there will be a dance workshop and an African ball that will last until dawn.

Cabaret Sauvage
© Discover Paris!

 Jewelry for Sale at the African Marketplace
© Discover Paris!

Children's Art Workshop
© Discover Paris!

Most of the events that are scheduled for the summer are free, including several concerts.  Next Sunday, in addition to the cooking demonstration, there will be free music by Naby (Senegal) and Mounira Mitchala (Chad).


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