Every culture has its own stories and narratives, and often those are told through dance.
Although many choreographers have compelling stories, Dallo Fall, who has been teaching dance at Colorado College for the past seven years, most certainly does. She was born and raised in Thionck Essyl, a small village in Senegal, and became the village’s first woman business owner when she opened a restaurant. When rebels attacked the village, her restaurant was pillaged and she lost everything. She later met her husband, a native of Colorado Springs, in Senegal. They married and moved first to Massachusetts and later to Colorado Springs.
Fall is among six choreographers whose original work will be featured at CC’s annual Block 6 dance performance, “be another/Storying.” Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m., Thursday- Saturday, March 7-9, in the Celeste Theatre in the Cornerstone Arts Center; $5 for general public admission. Other full- and part-time CC choreographers contributing include Patrizia Herminjard, Ron Jules, Debra Mercer, Pallavi Sriram, and Shawn Womack, all with Colorado College’s Theatre and Dance Department. Additionally, the work of five student choreographers will be featured and 37 student dancers participating.
This year’s event also includes a panel on race and dance. The four panelists are choreographers working in higher education whose artistic and scholarly work addresses questions of race, racism, and dance. They will consider specific problems and critical concerns that ensue when dancers — consciously or not — contend with racial difference and bias during the creative process, in the rehearsal studio, and in the classroom. CC Assistant Professor of Dance Pallavi Sriram is on the panel, as well as Vincent Thomas of Towson University, Celeste Miller of Grinnell College, and Julie Johnson of Spelman College. CC Professor of English and newly named Dean of Faculty Claire Garcia will moderate.
Fall says she encourages, but never pushes anyone in her adjunct dance classes. “I tell them, ‘Let your body join the music and have fun,’ ” she says. “I’ll will show how the moves are supposed to be; how your hand should be, and then they can follow.”
“Her wisdom goes far beyond how to move your body, as she teaches us to drum and to sing and most importantly, how to survive,” says John-Henry Williams ’19, who videoed the class.
Student-produced video by John-Henry Williams ’19
Fall remembers dancing as a 3-year-old in her village — and being very good at it. “I love dancing,” she says. “Dancing and drumming were always a part of my life. And singing too.” In addition to the adjunct dance class, she teaches two-block adjunct African drumming classes. “I hear the beat and the music and it reminds me of my childhood,” she says.
Fall, who was raised by her grandmother, says that children in her West African village barely had pencils, let alone a TV. “What to do? We would build a circle, and sing and dance and have fun,” she says. “We drum and dance for so many reasons.”
It’s that instinctive spirit of drumming and dancing that Fall loves to share with others — as well as her heartfelt and abundant cooking.
Dallo participates in a wide range of community events, including performing regularly at the Pikes Peak Diversity Council’s “What If…” and “Everybody Welcome” festivals. She also serves as a founding board member of Yermande (which means “compassion”), a nonprofit organization encouraging community development in Senegal; has an African drumming group called Jamoral (“listening to each other”); was the choreographer for the 2018 Theaterworks 2018 production of “A Raisin in the Sun”; and has conducted several performances and workshops through the Smokebrush Foundation and Sun Water Spa.