Kissidugu – means “a safe place” or “place of refuge” in the Kissi language of Guinea, founded in 2004 by Fara Tolno.

When tribal wars and the slave trade ravaged the coast of Guinea, people realized that in order to keep their families safe and intact that they would need to find “a safe place” to live. Many migrated inland to the mountains and forests. One of the villages that arose from this migration was called Kissidugu, where Fara spent much of his youth.

Our troupe is a merging of cultures. Our members are of varied ancestry and backgrounds. Drawn by the strong pull of this powerful music and dance, we have all come together. We share a common goal. Under the direction of our teacher Fara Tolno we are learning, holding and sharing the rich musical tradition of Guinea, West Africa.

While performing, it is our intention to create “a safe place” for people of all cultures and ancestry to re-connect through this powerful music. We welcome dialogue. A culturally mixed group like Kissidugu elicits many reactions. Part of our mission is to encourage the dialogue that arises. We don’t claim to have the answers but each of us, in our own way, are committed to the process of exploring these challenging questions. Please feel free to contact us at with any comments or inquiries.




Currently these musicians and dancers are working with Fara Tolno and Kissidugu, to not only enhance the current ensemble but to work towards the greater goal of building a school. We are also blessed to have many musicians from West Africa in our community that are part of the extended Kissidugu family.

Alya Sylla

Born April 22, 1985 in the village of Bromaya Coumbaya in Guinea, West Africa. Alya began playing djembe and balafon when he was five years old.  He studied under several masters in Guinea, and was a part of many ballets.  He started his training with Ballet Fareta, and was also in Ballet Samato, and Papa Kouyate’s company, Petit Sorcier.  He has traveled and performed with these ballets in Africa, as well as Europe. He has also played with famous Guinea artists like Sia Tolno.  Alya came to the United States in December of 2009. He is now teaching, studying, and performing with Fara Tolno and the Kissidugu Ensemble.

Jaime Duggan

Is on a life path dedicated to the continuous practice, study, discovery, and sharing of African dance forms for their medicinal benefits.  She is currently working towards her MFA degree in Dance at the University of Colorado-Boulder, where she also teaches Africanist contemporary dance.  Having earned her BA at Naropa University, where she minored in Traditional Eastern Arts, she applies Eastern and Western embodied philosophies to her understanding of African dance and music. Jaime danced with Logo Ligi African Dance Ensemble, under the direction of Maputo Mensah, of Ghana, before becoming a member of Kissidugu in 2005.  She rejoined the company in 2010 and feels honored to be part of this powerful, positive music and dance community.

Ralph Klee

Has been studying and performing African music since 1995.  He joined Kissidugu in 2006 and maintains an interest in the music and traditions of various African cultures. He played in the touring marimba band Jaka from 1997 through 2001, and spent 3 months studying in Zimbabwe in 2003.  Ralph is also a student of psychology, metaphysics and herbal medicine.

Angela Carroll

Spent many years teaching children, enjoying the outdoors,and seeking opportunities for music and dance in the small mountain town of Crested Butte, CO. She would play music and dance with other students of West African culture, while traveling as often as possible to seek out teachers at workshops and conferences in the US. In 2007 and 2008 she traveled to Guinea to study with Youssouf Koumbassa. Upon her return, she moved to Boulder to combine her passions of education and dance. Her goal is to see the vision of the Kissidugu School of Music, Dance, and Education become a reality, while intensely studying the music, culture, and dance of Guinea with master Fara Tolno.

Michael Mestas

Is a 25-year-old professional b-boy.  He is currently reppin’ Street Stylez Crew here in Colorado, and around the nation.  Mikey has an undergraduate degree from CU Boulder in Integrative Physiology and is an MFA candidate in the dance program right now.   Mikey has worked personally with well-known b-boys such as Dyzee, Flea Rock, Rox Rite, Moy, Little John, and Y-not from the infamous Rock Steady Crew. Mikey is currently studying percussion and dance from Fara Tolno and is continually left in awe after what goes down on a regular Monday night’s rehearsal.

Tara Bialy

Mecca Madyun

Nate Vellinga

Johanna Odell

Lyrana Hughes

Rachael Sharp

Roldolfo Betancourt