Dancer Christopher Barksdale. Photographer Steve Wilson.
Dancer Christopher Barksdale. Photographer Steve Wilson.

Choreography: Caniparoli
Music: Bach and Traditional African Ryhthms

Caniparoli’s Lambarena is a joyous celebration of dance and an exhilarating integration of cultures. “It would have been obvious to do classical steps with the Bach and ethnic movement with the African,” he says. “But the score is a marriage of these two kinds of music, and I wanted the choreography to be the same thing. I wanted to show that you can do either kind of movement to both kinds of music. It’s very much a ballet, and it’s my own vocabulary, but it’s influenced by African movement.”

Striving to keep the style as accurate as possible, Caniparoli consulted with African dance specialists Zakariya Sao Diouf and Naomi Gedo Johnson-Washington to help him blend African dance with ballet.

Lambarena is set to selections from an unusual score of the same name that combines traditional African music with the melodies of Johann Sebastian Bach. The score, an homage to Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer, unites the two integral elements that formed Schweitzer’s “sound world,” the music of Bach and the native melodies and rhythms of his adopted homeland Gabon. Schweitzer is well known for his interpretation of Bach’s music and also for his work of establishing a hospital and dedicating his life to service as a mission doctor in Lambarena in the province of Gabon, Africa.

The 1995, the San Francisco Ballet World Premiere of Lambarena was made possible in part by a 1994 Choo-San Goh Award for choreography from the Choo-San Goh & H. Robert Magee Foundation.

World Premiere: March 28, 1995. San Francisco Ballet, War Memorial Opera House,
San Francisco, California

Kansas City Ballet Premiere: May 6, 2004, Lyric Theatre

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