The Heart and Soul of Tokounou
The Call to sing and dance first came to Sidiki
Conde in a dream he had after he lost the use of his legs when he was
fourteen. Music and dance became his transcendance and his vocation. Conde
founded Message de Espior (The Message of Hope) a music and dance
ensemble in 1986 with other artists with disablities he met in Conakry
the capital city of Guinea. Conde toured West Africa with Messsage
de Espoir giving performances and working to change perceptions of
disabilities. At the same time Conde became the Manager Of Operations
"The National Association of the Republic of Guinea for the Handicapped."
In this capacity he worked to develop programs to help people with disabilities
gain job skills. Conde has performed with a numher of premier West African
music and dance ensembles including the prestigious Les Merveilles
de Guinea, which he joined in 1987. Kemoko Sano, founder of Les
Merveilles, trained Conde in traditional music and dance of the company's
repertoire. Conde performed as a soloist in the ballet and in 1988 he
was given the job of company rehearsal master.
In 1988 Conde came to America. He founded his company Tokounou the next year. Conde has worked extensively with children and adults of all abilites giving performances while teaching African dance and music in schools, hospitals and universities. These programs have included a series of 10 performances with Tokounou last spring in Special Need Schools through NYC Special Education District 75. Conde has also tenured as artist in residence in PS811 in the Bronx, which serves children with multiple disabilities. (Sidiki will return as artist-in-residence to PS811 in March 2002.) Conde volunteered as a choreographer with National Dance Institute's children's mixed ability dance program and worked in Connecticut developing a mixed ability dance program, "Bridging the Gap." In June 2000 Conde was a featured performer in danceAble, part of Dance Florida. In May 2000 Sidiki hand cycled across America for 22 days as part of World TEAM (The Exceptional Athlete Matters) Sport's Face of America athletic and humanitarian event. he is a member of the WTS Speaker's Bureau, traveling throughout the northeast as a motivational speaker. Sidiki and Tokounou will be featured performers in the "International Festival for Different Abilities" in April 2002 in Carpi, Italy.