Fara Tolno was born in Guinea, West Africa. He spent his youth in the village of Kissidugu and Guinea’s capital city, Conakry. Playing djembe since the age of nine, he has traveled extensively performing and teaching both drumming and dance. Fara spent nine years as the lead drummer for Les Merveilles de Guinea (The Wonders of Guinea) under the tutelage of West Africa’s most influential director and choreographer, Kemoko Sano. Fara is a keeper of the history, the music, and the dance in his culture. He holds a vision to build a school of Music, Dance and Education in his home of Guinea, West Africa. This school will help provide a sustainable way to ensure that the knowledge of the music, dance, and history of Guinea will be passed on to the next generation. Read more about this project and how to contribute here.
Currently based in Boulder, Colorado, Fara has completed his MFA at the University of Colorado. Pursuing his Master of Fine Arts in dance has given him the opportunity to not only teach and share his culture, but to study many different forms of dance. He is taking this knowledge and finding ways to relate and merge the art form of dance and music from his culture with that of the western world. Fara is sharing this new and innovative perspective through his teaching in community and university classes, providing a one of a kind opportunity and outlook at traditional West African dance, and its relation historically and currently into the western world.
Fara is the founder, director, and choreographer for Kissidugu, his percussion and dance theatre ensemble. He is training and performing with a variety of students; combining traditional performance styles and pieces from Guinea with his own insights and knowledge of rhythms and movement.
Fara is focusing his energy locally by developing Project Drum, a business designed to provide rhythm based educational and teambuilding services to schools, organizations, teams, music educators and corporations. Rooted in the rich musical traditions of West Africa, Project Drum strives to bring people from all walks of life together for a joyful and enriching experience. Through this program Fara works with students, trains teachers and performs in schools, sharing West African music, dance, and culture, and ways to implement this music into the classroom. There is a variety of options for facilitating workshops and residencies through Project Drum.
Fara also provides access to the rhythms of Guinea through the Rhythm Reference Project, the most comprehensive audio and notation library ever compiled for West African Drumming. This project provides instructions and audio tutorials on over 50 traditional rhythms, all recorded by Fara.
Fara has performed with many of the world’s premier musicians including Mamady Keita, Burning Spear, Neil Young, Sekouba Bambino, Otis Taylor, Joe Cocker, Youssou N’Dour, Salif Keita Habibe Koite, B.B. King, Oumou Sangare, and many more…
Fara’s performance style has been described as mystical as he dazzles audiences around the world. As the director of Kissidugu, he has expanded his depth of knowledge to the realm of musical arrangement and choreography. Fara has a magical way of teaching everything from the basics to the beautiful intricacies of West African percussion to Western players of all levels and ages. His energetic and compassionate teaching style make him one of the most sought after drum and dance instructors in the United States.