For our latest Faculty Profile, we spoke to our new theater team, Filly Gueye and Bassirou Samb. With the Performing Arts Center up and running, we needed a skilled team to help manage it and bring it to life. That's where Filly and Bassirou come in! Read on to find out how they got into the creative arts and what they have planned for the Performing Arts Center in the future.
What are your positions here at ISD?
Filly: PAC Theater Supervisor
Bassirou: Theater Technical Specialist
Tell us a little bit about your background working in theater and the arts.
Filly: I discovered the world of performing arts from the age of 3 years old growing up in Los Angeles California joining a popular dance company that competed nationally: I did tap, jazz, African, modern, ballet, and hip hop. I have also produced stage plays in high school and performed during my college years as a contemporary dancer. I also coordinate stage plays along with film productions on the Universal Studio lots for students working alongside the Chair of the department at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. I was assistant director for a film on talibé’s that was selected in Film Festivals in France and New York and have produced movies, and co-produced series for shows. I have also done artist management and curated art shows for local artists in Dakar and entered into art festivals in Jordanie, Ethiopia, France, the US, and the Dak’Art Biennale.
Bassirou: I am a sound engineer and have fourteen years of experience in the field of Studio and Live Performance. I am also certified in digital audio Network (Dante). In the studio I worked with many well-known artists including Cheikh Lo, Naby Condé, Orchestra Baobab, Fafadi, and so on. I’ve made a lot of hits in the industry, not only in Senegal.
I was also on the technical team of the Goethe Institut Senegal and I can say that I learned a lot with them. I’ve traveled a lot for festivals as a sound engineer. I did a lot of scenes including Baba Maal, Wasis Diop, Pape and Cheikh, and so on.
I'm also part of a program called Senegal Talent Campus, the first skills-based approach certification program in Senegal.
What or who inspired you to get into this field?
Filly: At a young age, my parents put me in performing arts through a dance company that allowed me to learn multiple disciplines of dance and compete nationwide. I fell in love with performing and so I auditioned and featured in films (Steven Spielberg’s Amistad), stage plays, and musicals among which was Debbie Allen’s Broadway show The Chocolate Nutcracker. I saw the potential of guiding and mentoring to help the youth tap into their hidden talents through exploration of the arts via stage plays or film productions. As I am a visionary, I know that my mission is to bring my experience and help them create a roadmap to bringing their work to life.
Bassirou: Since my childhood, I have always been passionate about technical stuff and music.
I repaired computers, walkmans and I had fun making recordings with cassettes. I started with the recording studio, then day by day my passion for engineering increased. I can say it's my love for music and shows.
What advice would you give to a student wanting to get into the creative arts?
Filly: It is so beautiful to discover the many subjects art contains. Explore as much as you can and don’t just limit yourself to one form of art. Also, everyone plays an important role. You can be behind the scenes, in front of the camera, or on or behind the stage and still touch someone with your work. You can create and express yourself because you bring something unique that makes you you and you will discover it through curiosity and practice.
Bassirou: Perseverance, not limiting yourself, always being creative, and patient, because it takes a lot of practice and determination. The experience comes with time, by dint of repeating and never getting discouraged, to get up after each fall; that’s is the key to success in the cultural and creative industries.
What do you have planned for the Performing Arts Center (PAC) moving forward?
Filly: There are so many opportunities to breathe life and culture into the beautiful space that we are fortunate to be a part of. We aspire to help create a signature safe space where people can dare challenge themselves and others to show the importance of the arts in our everyday lives. We look forward to providing top-of-the-line productions and experiences for all of our communities to see themselves in. Bringing cultures together to share and connect. The outside art world and the PAC can be a bridge for exchange and making magic happen. I would love to see the different cultural spaces come together and share with the community as much as with each other.
Bassirou: We would like to build a good relationship with the community, a link with the other PAC, to have interactions with cultural actors not only in Senegal but all around the world. We have a good PAC which is very well equipped with the best of equipment.
We could do any kind of show! We also think about concerts with famous artists which could generate fun for our PAC.
If you could host any performance or event in the PAC, what would it be and why?
Filly: It would be to create a stage play that would incorporate fashion, stage design, dance, music, and visual arts that can be a yearly blueprint performance. It is important to show the connection between all the forms of art and consider opportunities for inclusivity amongst our students and staff while also learning from outside cultural communities from all over the world.
Bassirou: Every year, a song, dance, and theater competition because right now it's rare to find a producer, most of the products are self-prod. So I think it will be good to have this kind of initiative, not only for young artists to be known but also to have the opportunity to gain recognition that can help them in their careers.
What is your favorite thing to do in Dakar (or Senegal in general) on the weekends? (We are always looking for fun, new things to do!)
Filly: I love to visit art galleries and discover restaurants. There is an art tour, called Doxantu Art Tour, created by Wagane Gueye an all-around artist, where he takes you around Dakar and surrounding regions to explore the many uses of arts through textiles, paintings, photography, dance, and poetry where you get to discover architectural spaces used as incubators and residencies for artists.
Bassirou: Generally, during the week I work in my recording studio in Saly. I do documentation and also give recording, mix and mastering courses for young people who are interested in the sound business. In the evening I sing and play guitar with artist friends, go to a karaoke party or clubbing.
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Filly: I love Sauce Feuille (cassava leaves sauce with palm oil and seafood), a West African dish that I fell in love with because of my maternal Grandmother who is half Ivorian and Senegalese.
Bassirou: It's a bit complicated because I like to vary food. But anyway, I will choose a good Senegalese okra soup with smoked fish and white rice.
Thank you so much Filly and Bassirou! We loved getting to know you better.