Bringing the Homeland to a New Home

Malonga Casquelourd

"The Malonga"

Malonga Casquelourd was born in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo in 1947. Even as a child he was extremely interested in dance. He became a principal dancer with the National Congolese Dance Company in his teens and began performing internationally before joining Le Ballet Diaboua in Paris. He moved to New York in 1972 and co-founded a Central African dance Company, named Tanawa, which would be the first of its kind in the United States. Casquelourd moved to Oakland in the mid-70s and immediately began teaching Congolese dance and drumming at CitiCentre Dance Theater. While instructing there he began to teach African studies at San Francisco State University. Rachel Howard of the San Francisco Gate states that “Even dancers who didn’t take his classes looked forward to hearing his booming voice in the Alice Arts Center halls every Saturday” and that “[he] believed in sharing his culture, and learning about others’, as a path to peace. His choreography filled the theater with this generous spirit, combining the explosive hip and shaking of contemporary and traditional dances with irresistible rhythms and explosively colorful costumes.” Casquelourd created a twenty-five member troup names Fua Dia Congo and was called a “high-energy, crowd-pleaser, jovial, [and] larger-than-life.” His four children still teach with Fua Dia Congo. Casquelourd was killed in June of 2003 when a drunken driver made a wrong turn down a one-way street. Rachel Howard of the San Francisco Gate states that “His unexpected death left a community stricken but also grateful for their years with the smiling man so passionate about the moves of his homeland…” and that “less than a year after [his] death, in response to overwhelming public petition, the Oakland City Council renamed the Alice Arts Center to Malonga Cosquelourd Center for the Arts. Oakland dancers simply call it ‘the Malonga.’”

Cite this Page:

Yesenia Checa, “Bringing the Homeland to a New Home,” Street Stories: Oakland, accessed December 14, 2017, http://streetstoriesoakland.com/items/show/24.
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