Afriky Lolo’s mission is to share and celebrate West African dance with local, national, and international communities!
We do so through classes, performances, workshops, and summer camps, volunteering and for-profit events. Through dance, we bring the rich heritage of African performance to children, teens, adults, and seniors of all levels and abilities. Whenever possible, we nurture and expand contacts between our African dance community in St. Louis, Missouri and other enthusiasts of African dance across the world.
Afriky Lolo, founded and led by Diádié Bathily, is a West African dance non-profit corporation that is committed to bringing West African dance and culture to the St. Louis, Missouri, community through teaching and performing. Bathily is a Master dancer from the Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa. He immigrated to the United States in 1998. He has a strong personal and professional desire to share the beauty, culture and passion of West African dance with Americans, especially African Americans.
Diádié Bathily has danced professionally for over 30 years and has performed professionally for Marie-Rose Guiraud’s Les Guirivoires, Adama Drame, Wara Danse (his company in the Cote d’Ivoire), and Diádié Bathily Dance (in the United States). Bathily is an experienced teacher who specializes in traditional dances from Mali, the Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, and Ghana. He teaches and performs in St. Louis elementary and secondary schools and at local universities, colleges, and dance studios throughout the Midwest. Throughout the school year, Bathily teaches and gives workshops at local elementary and secondary public schools, at Washington University and at the University of Missouri in St. Louis. Bathily also choreographs original pieces for university dance companies.
Diádié Bathily formed Afriky Lolo in 2003, and became a tax-exempt, non-profit corporation in 2007. The Company has 75 dancers — ranging in age from 6 to over 60 and 8 drummers. Afriky Lolo, meaning African Star, performs traditional West African dance at community events throughout the year. The Company’s annual performance is its largest event.
Afriky Lolo performances are choreographed, staged, costumed, and directed by Diádié Bathily. These performances reflect the rich culture of West Africa, and each dance performed by Afriky Lolo is enhanced by traditional West African costumes. Costuming is a very important aspect of traditional West African dance. Bathily travels frequently to the Cote d’Ivoire and Mali in order to obtain authentic West African cloth, beads, and masks for the costumes worn by the dancers and drummers. All costumes are sewn by Bathily and/or specialists in West Africa.
Afriky Lolo continues to grow its public recognition, its teaching opportunities and its performance opportunities. The company is offering its educational program, under the Afriky Lolo name, to more schools, and is increasing the number of performances and workshops it can offer to the community. Bathily has seen African American children inspired by their heritage, excited by the opportunity to participate in this dancing, and even reporting more interest and energy in school as a result.
Board of Directors
- Dominique Beeks – President
- Monica Bailey – Secretary
- Benjamin Gandhi-Shepard
- Tamia Muhammad
- LaShanda Chapman