Madness of the Elephant Puts an African Road-Trip on the Stage

Categories: Dance

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By Devin Holt
When Bongo Sidibe played with Grateful Dead member Mickey Hart in 2008, he was probably the only person in the Shoreline Amphitheatre who had never heard of him -- it was one of his first gigs in the U.S. Five years later, Sidibe is one half of the artistic direction behind Madness of the Elephant, the new show from Duniya Dance and Drum Company. The other half, Joti Singh, first met Sidibe during a 13-hour car ride from Gambia to Guinea in West Africa.

Singh was fresh off a master's at UC Berkeley and in West Africa to study dance and music. The road trip was time well spent; Duniya Dance and Drum was born on that ride, and the pair runs it as a couple, on and off the stage. The company mixes traditional music and dances from Guinea, West Africa, and Punjab, India, and has performed in the Carnival Parade, at City Hall, and the Sierra Nevada Music Festival. Madness explores the complexities of life under Guinea's first president, patron of the arts and paranoid dictator, Sekou Toure. No road trip required.
Madness of the Elephant runs April 5-6 at 8 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center, 3200 California St., S.F. Admission is $15-$30; call 292-1200 or visit duniyadance.com.

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