Dembaya Means "Family"

by Shannita Williams

Le Ballet Dembaya
Le Ballet Dembaya

If your nose is tingling that could be because Big World Fun is back! Bring your curiosity and your sense of adventure and explore the world’s diverse cultures right here at the Ford. No plane required! These one-hour dance and music performances are designed with our youngest audience members in mind but are perfect for the entire family. The 2018 Big World Fun series begins Saturday, June 30 with LA-based West African dance and drum company Le Ballet Dembaya

Although they’ve only been an official group since 2015, the members of Le Ballet Dembaya have been drumming and dancing together since they were children. In fact, their parents are among some of the first generation of people in Los Angeles to study, practice and celebrate the traditions of djembe music.
The artists who comprise this tight-knit company were raised together as brothers and sisters. Little did they know that they would grow together to form Le Ballet Dembaya, which means “the dance of the family” in the Soussou language spoken in Guinea. The name was chosen not only to pay homage to their bond, but also to acknowledge their parents, elders and ancestors. Le Ballet Dembaya’s aim is to use their art as a tool for education, healing and empowerment in Los Angeles and throughout the world.

A family engaging with a tortoise at Big World Fun.
Families engaging with a hawk brought to the Ford by the Nature in Your Backyard program.

Come early to explore wild animals along the Ford’s entryway gardens, provided by the LA County Parks & Recreation Department’s Nature in Your Backyard program. Then take time to make a bow and/or bowtie out of traditional African wax fabric, led by Go As If and inspired by filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu's concept of fun, fierce and fantastical African art, dubbed AfroBubbleGum.

Kids making art projects at the Big World Fun.
Kids participating in art projects at Big World Fun.

 Presented by the Ford Theatre Foundation, Big World Fun events are free for kids and just $5 for adults. Events take place on Saturday mornings during the summer: June 30 (Le Ballet Dembaya), July 7 (Fairytales UnScripted by Impro Theatre), July 28 (Kim Eung Hwa Korean Dance Company) and August 4 (Quattrosound). More information here.