Originally from Bamako, Mali, Sory Diabate comes from a long line of Djelis (griots). Djelis are highly venerated in their society as oral historians who are trained singers, storytellers, musicians, mediators and advisors. Sory began drumming in the early eighties, as an apprentice with Sidiki Camara, who now works with renowned drummer Mamady Keita. In Mali, Sory was a member of Troupe Pionna, and a principal drummer with Troupe Doumba, Troupe Districte de Bamako and Troupe Sewa. In 1997 he became Assistant Director of Troupe Sewa and traveled extensively throughout Mali, researching in depth the origins of traditional rhythms and dances whose authenticity is preserved in the smaller villages.
In addition to the djembe and dun dun, Sory plays the tama, or talking drum, the bara and the bondiala. Prior to coming to the United States he conducted percussion workshops for students visiting Mali from all corners of the world.
In the U.S, Sory has performed with Sambalolo, Group Badenya, Timinadi, Under the Sun Dance & Drum, Spirit of Africa, and Troupe Sewa directed by Joh Camara. He has taught workshops in North Carolina, at West Virginia University, Brown University, and SUNY Purchase and has performed at the Wang Center for Performing Arts, the Dance Complex, Harvard, MIT, Wellesley College, Bunker Hill Community College, Cambridge School of Weston, the Cambridge YWCA and YMCA, the Cambridge River Festival, Cambridge Carnival and parades and festivals all over New England.
Sory Diabate is the founder and Director of Benkadi Drum & Dance. He currently teaches West African drumming at the Studio@550 in Cambridge and is a dance class accompanist at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Harvard Dance Center, Curry College and the Dance Complex.
Marianne Harkless Diabate
Marianne Harkless Diabate has been performing and teaching for more than 30 years. She danced with the Art of Black Dance & Music, Danny Sloan Dance Company, Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre, Boston Dance Collective, Brasiliero, Inc., Bandanca Afro-Brazilian Dancers & Musicians, Under the Sun Dance & Drum, La Pintade, Spirit of Africa, Impulse Dance Company and others.
During this time, Marianne toured France, Switzerland and Jamaica performing at schools, theaters and festivals. She taught workshops at the Studios Paris Centre and Centre Culturel Git le Coeur in Paris, also in Avignon, France, in Bern and Chiasso, Switzerland, and at Titchfield High School in Jamaica, West Indies.
Marianne has taught dance at Radcliffe College, Boston University, Dean College, the Commonwealth School, Cambridge School of Weston, Ballet Arts Centre of Winchester, Hyde Park, Dorchester and English High Schools, the International Academy of Ethnic Dance, Institute for Contemporary Dance, Joy of Movement Center, Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre, the Dance Complex, Cambridge Friends School, Shady Hill School, Webster, Fitzgerald and King Community Schools in Cambridge, Ohrenberger, Dever, McCormack and Mather Schools in Dorchester and at dance studios in the greater Boston area. She has guest taught all over New England, and in Portland, Oregon.
Marianne's television performances include Channel 2's "Say Brother" , Channel 7's "Revista" , the opening collage for "Live on 4", Channel 36 in Providence and JBC TV in Jamaica.
Marianne was a 1994 recipient of the Dance Belt Award from the City of Cambridge. She is a former member of the Board of Trustees of the Boston Dance Alliance.
Marianne currently teaches at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee and Wellesley College. She is the Artist Coordinator for the Racines Black Dance Festival and is the Dance Director of Benkadi Drum & Dance.