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Olivier Tarpaga

Olivier Tarpaga is a dancer, choreographer, musician, composer, songwriter, performing arts consultant and storyteller originally from Burkina Faso. Tarpaga is the founder and artistic director of the internationally acclaimed Dafra Drum (traditional Manding music) since 1995 and Dafra Kura Band (Contemporary African acoustic music) since 2011 and a co-founder of Burkina Faso’s internationally acclaimed “Compagnie Ta.” He has worked and collaborated with choreographers such as David Rousseve, Brett Raphael, Christian Canciani, Ousseni Sako, Lacina Coulibaly, Auguste Ouedraogo and Bienvenue Bazie. In 2008 Tarpaga was commissioned by Connecticut ballet company to choreograph a new work named “Visage” on twelve professional ballet dancers and two international musicians with a world premier at the Rich Forum Stanford Center for the Arts in Connecticut. He is a recipient of numerous grants including a Chime Mentorship Fellowship with David Rousseve as his mentor. Tarpaga co-founded a study abroad program to Burkina Faso through The Ohio State University Department of Dance. Tarpaga plays numerous traditional instruments and is an expert of the Djembé drum. He is currently a faculty at the School of Music and the Department of Dance at The Ohio State University, the Department of Drama and Dance at Kenyon College, OH and the Department of Dance at Denison University, OH. He was recently commissioned to train and compose a music and dance concert for Sibongie music ensemble in Kaohsiung Taiwan and his 2011 concert named “Saraka” with Dafra Kura Band performed at the International Sacred Arts Festival in New Delhi and toured four major cities in India, invited by the Government of India. Saraka performed numerous concerts plus a very acclaimed collaboration with Kryasta Guna gamelan ensemble at the Bali Spirit Festival in Bali Indonesia. Tarpaga has worked, performed, collaborated and recorded with rock artist POE at Capitol Records in Hollywood. In 2008 he was invited to re-interpret Beethoven’s ninth symphony with West African instruments in a sold-out concert with British singer Billy Bragg and numerous guests at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica CA. He has studied dance with Salia Sanou, Seydou Boro, Alassane Congo, Mathilde Monnier, David Rousseve, Robert Seyfried, Nana Nilson, Victoria Marks and Lionel Popkins. Born in Kaya, Burkina Faso, Tarpaga followed in the steps of his father Abdoulaye Richard Tarpaga, director of the late 1950s orchestra “Super Volta.” At the age of fourteen he was selected as an actor, dancer and percussionist for Burkina Faso’s acclaimed company “Le Bourgeon du Burkina,” which performed at numerous festivals and theaters throughout Africa, Europe, and South America. He represented Burkina Faso as a dancer and drummer with Le Bourgeon du Burkina in front of numerous African and European head of States at international events such as the 1998 France-Africa Summit, The United Africa Conference, and the Pan African film Festival “FESPACO.” Later that year, he began to tour internationally as a percussionist and storyteller with master griot Amadou Kienou and his Ensemble Foteban. In 2001 Tarpaga toured Italy as a lead drummer for George Ouédraogo. He also played percussion for Kora player Keba Cissoko, performed with Les Merveilles de Guinea in New York, French jazzman Martin Fernandez, and Sylvain Leroux.