Photographer: Christopher Duggan
Writer: Karen Cleveland

(Interview follows photo series)


Doundounba is a style of West Aftrican music and dance based upon the rhythms played on the drum known as the “doundoun”. Dance photographer Christopher Duggan explains, “I used to play African drums and when my teacher had had enough of New York and returned home to Africa, I made several trips in order to continue my studies with him. These photos were taken in Guinea, Gambia and Senegal during several of those trips.”

Between study and practice Duggan and his fellow drummers would occasionally go to a doundounba party and experience the music in its proper setting. “People would have street parties where everyone comes together to dance and celebrate,” Duggan says. “Such parties are celebrations of events like baby christenings or marriages. It’s not a performance where you just stand around and listen to a band and watch dancers, but a social gathering where everyone, young and old, join in dancing and drumming. It’s really wonderful. But because social interaction plays such a big role in the culture, I couldn’t just stand around watching and taking pictures. I would have to get in there. I didn’t dance too much, but I often played the drums.”