Vado Diomande: Dancer, Choreographer, and Drummer from the Ivory Coast

Vado Diomande, 50, has established a reputation as a distinguished performer and teacher of traditional dances from West Africa.  Five years ago, however, Diomande’s career was interrupted when he suddenly became ill with a life threatening disease.

In February 2006, Diomande, founder of the Kotchenga Dance Company, collapsed in a restaurant he went to after a performance in Pennsylvania.  An ambulance was called and he was rushed to a hospital.

“They check everything and they said that my heart no good, and everything no good,” Diomande said.

Diomande’s condition later became critical.  What followed was worry and confusion as doctors tried to find a diagnosis.

They knew it was something very, very serious,” said Lisa Diomande, Vado’s wife.  “But they didn’t know what to do.”

Eventually, the Center for Disease Control concluded that what Diomande had was naturally occurring anthrax.  He was the first to fall ill with the disease in 30 years.

Diomande survived the rare, but deadly disease.  He doesn’t attribute his survival to any medical cure, but to his career as a dancer. “My dancing helped me a lot, that’s why I’m living today” Diomande said.

Diomande turned his near death experience into a source of motivation for his dancing. “I was strong before,” Diomande said “This is what happens in life.  I will keep going.”

by Oulimata Ba

2 thoughts on “Vado Diomande: Dancer, Choreographer, and Drummer from the Ivory Coast

  1. Oulimata you chose a great subject. Vado’s story is unique especially since the traditional dance is something that he learned as a child and stayed with it. He made it his career. It was very vivid and colorful . The performances and sound of the drums really made the feel of the piece. You used the title cards very well to go from chapter to chapter if his story. Going from the performance to the interview and back throughout the story was a great decision. Good Job.

    I watched the video and then read the story and was disappointed that Vado’s sickness and how dancing helped him heal was not a part of your video. That is really compelling and I would have loved to hear him talk about it. Im guessing you made the decision to just tell his dance story and it was good, but since you write about it I now want to know about it.

    The audio levels were good and you set the scene with the performances and dance studio. It would have been good to see Vado interviewed in a place that set a scene as well.

    Great story!

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