Elina Djebbari

Before receiving my PhD in Ethnomusicology, my first academic training focused on History of Art and Museum/Heritage studies at Ecole du Louvre where I specialised in African Art and Anthropology. Using a very interdisciplinary approach, I strive to consider and link together the historical, political and sociological dimensions of artistic practices, to place myself within and hopefully contribute to a renewal of ethnomusicology and dance anthropology. Before joining KCL in December 2013 to be part of Modern Moves with a new research project entitled ‘The Diaspora Returns: The Reconfiguration of Afro-Caribbean Dance in West Africa’, I was previously member of two international research programmes (ANR GLOBAMUS- Musical Creation, Circulation and Identity Market in a Global Context and FSP Mali Contemporain). My PhD in Ethnomusicology from EHESS (Paris) dealt with national cultural policies and debates around heritage by using traditional music-dance performances in Mali, West Africa, as developed by the National Ballet, private dance companies and the state-sponsored festival “Biennale Artistique et Culturelle”.

I have been practicing West African drums (jembé/dunun) for more than ten years. It is thanks to this musical training that I had the opportunity to go to Mali to learn Malian rhythms and their related dances. To expand the scope of my musical training, I began to learn the Persian zarb (or tombak), the classical drum of Iranian music. I very much enjoy the specific finger technique and the multiplicity of sounds of this instrument and the exhilarating complexity of the rhythms played on it.

Dance is part of my life since my very childhood (modern-jazz, classical ballet, contemporary dance). Later, I discovered many different dance styles, from Bharata Natyam to Ragga-Dance hall/Reggaeton, from both ‘traditional’ and urban (coupé-décalé, kuduro) African dances to the Latin couple dances (salsa, bachata, merengue…).

Being part of this ambitious and thrilling project is both an honour and an exciting challenge.