Fua Dia Congo – Oakland based Congolese Drum and Dance Group

Introduction

Fua Dia Congo, located in Oakland, CA.  is a Congolese music group that practices Congolese drum and dance, and teaches drum and dance classes.

Synopsis

Communication is an organic and extremely important component of Fua Dia Congo. In the classes, communication between instructor/musical director Kiazi Malonga and the students, communication between the students themselves, and in the case of the dance classes, communication between Kiazi and the drummers, and communication between the drummers and the dancers, allows everyone participating to collectively gain a deeper understanding of the music and art form. In teaching the drum and dance classes, Kiazi incorporates both oral communication and “physical” communication in order to give everyone multiple ways of learning the material. This mixture of modalities allows for maximum understanding of the music and a more polished final musical product.

Biography of The Main Artist

Kiazi Malonga is the current musical director of Fua Dia Congo. The son of Congolese drumming and dance master Malonga Casquelourd, Kiazi learned about the art form as a young child, and has continued to perfect his craft over the years. He teaches Fua Dia Congo drum classes every Saturday and dance classes every Monday at the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts. Through these classes, he and the group continue in their dedication to preserve, promote, and study Congolese culture. Kiazi graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations, received a Master of Arts in International Relations from American University, and received a Master of Arts in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development from United Nations University for Peace. In addition to teaching Fua Dia Congo classes, Kiazi previously served as a Program Manager with Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Kiazi as three siblings- Muisi-kongo, Lungusu, and Boueta Malonga- all of whom are actively involved in the group and help craft and promote a Congolese art form and identity in the Bay Area.

Interview Excerpts with Kiazi Malonga Taken 5/4/14 2:30 at the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice Street, Oakland, CA. 94539. Interviewed by Giuliano Kornberg

“If someone new came into the class,  I would do is to make sure that the newcomer has the basic foundation. So I start with teaching the bass and tone hits, and try to get a knack if the person has rhythm. That’s the challenge- you can’t teach rhythm, since rhythm is something you feel. And some people just don’t feel it, since the music, rhythms, and syncopation is different. Once they have the basics, I play with them, to make sure they have support. Then I have them work on their own, and I give something to the advanced players. Even though the material I would give the better players would be different, it would be a common thread of teaching based on one rhythm. So I may teach the basic rhythm to the newcomer and the solo part  to the more advanced player, so they both learn the material and are challenged.”

“Drumming and dancing are codependent. There can be drumming without dancing, but if the music is good, you want to move to. I think that they feed off of each other- the drummer provides the music and support for the dancing, and the dancing in-turn inspires the drummers. If the drumming is sweet, the dancing level rises. The music does something to you inside. If the music is boring, you’re listless. But if it is lively, it has the power and capacity to give you energy to get to places both spiritually and physically that you didn’t know you could get do.  Music does that for dancers, and in turn as a drummer, when you see the dancing being executed properly, it gives you energy back in turn.”

Photos

  Malonga Casquelourd Center for the ArtsFua Dia Congo Dancers 2 Kiazi Malonga PhotoFua Dia Congo Dancers 1 Fua Dia Congo Dancers 3Fua Dia Congo Drummers 1

 Click the link below for audio recordings from the drumming classes

Drumming Clip 1

Drumming Clip 2

Drumming Clip 3

Drumming Clip 4

Researcher – Giuliano Kornberg

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