Wontanara Drum & Dance

West African Drum and Dance in Victoria BC
  • Photo:


Title: Co-Founder / Manager / Lead Dancer / Drummer

Marielle has been dancing since the age of five. Her first dancing experience was in her home town of Sainte Marie’s Bay, Nova Scotia. Marielle studied various dance forms for almost 10 years before discovering the dynamic and wonderful world of African dance while participating in the international exchange program Canada World Youth in 2002. This exchange program led her to Benin, West Africa where she studied the art of traditional patchwork quilting and djembe construction.

Upon her arrival back to Canada Marielle began to pursue the study of West African dance, particularly Guinean dance, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she was obtaining a BFA with a major in jewellery and metalsmithing at NSCAD University.

During her final year of studies, Marielle travelled to Birmingham, England to study at the World-renowned School Of Jewellery and had the opportunity to also study and perform Afro-Carribean at the Dance Xchange. While in Europe, Marielle also studied African dance in Dublin, Ireland and at Le Centre Momboye in Paris France with Papson Sylla.

Marielle moved to Victoria, BC and shortly thereafter travelled to Guinea, West Africa under the direction of Guinean dancer N'nato Camara. Here, Marielle studied traditional Guinean dance with members of Ballet Taille: Mariama Camara and Kadiatou Kouyate. Marielle also had the opportunity to study with Master Djembe player Mamadouba Camara, who is currently director of “Le Ballet Taille” and former lead soloist for “Ballet Djoliba” and “Les Ballets Africains” during the same era as legendary djembe fola Mamadty Keita.

While in Guinea Marielle met her now husband, master dancer and talented drummer Mohamed Andre Duranteau, who was also one of the lead dancers in both "Le Ballet Taille" and "Le Ballet Kali.”

Marielle returned to Victoria inspired and in love in April 2007 and has since been sharing and teaching her knowledge of Guinean Dance with students across lower Vancouver Island. In May 2008 her and Mohamed took Victoria by storm by forming the performance group Wontanara Drum & Dance. Through this group they have been able to spread their passion for Guinean drum and dance to an even wider audience, proudly helping to enrich Vancouver Island's multi-cultural performing arts scene.

Marielle has had the opportunity to study with Guinean artists Mohamed Andre Duranteau, Mohamed N’Diaye, Yamoussa Bangoura, Manimou Camara, Abdoulaye Sylla, Karim Koumbassa, Aboubacar Camara, N'nato Camara,  and with members of Les Amazones de Guinee. Marielle also has had the honour of performing in numerous illustrious performances, notably “African Explosion,” and “Afica Wali,” alongside amazingly talented African artists.