Jubilation Foundation Teaching Artist Fellow Gabriel Fara Tolno

Gabriel Fara Tolno

Fellowship: 2021

“The more we learn about ourselves and one another, the more we can resonate in a world of joy and harmony, with respect for all life.”

Gabriel came from West Africa to the United States in 1998 as part of a performing ensemble hired by Disney World. He stayed when the gig was up, and created the Kissidugu Company in Colorado. He created Camp Merveilles in 2003, an annual drum and dance camp. 

“I was supposed to be a politician. But I wanted to do something different from my family. The historians of West African music and culture, the Djely people, impact the community; they bring people together and hold sacred space in times of need. I wanted to do that. I wanted to inspire through music, dance, and culture. By the time I was 15, I had my own drum and dance company.”

Teaching philosophy:
To share information that can help people grow. To help them feel free in their mind, body, and soul.

Dance and drum challenges the brain, and helps create neural pathways between the left and right brain.

I teach the dances and drumming of my culture, as well as many others styles mixed in. This gives students many lenses in which to interpret the movement, allowing them to improve quickly, and develop an understanding and respect for the art forms of many different peoples. 

Describe a good teaching day:
When I see students happy, engaging with each other, and having fun. When they are in sync with the music and movement, flowing with the time. No matter what has happened to them that day or in their life, they are simply present in the total bliss of music and dance.

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