2010 Guest Artists: African Artists of Burkina Faso

La Troupe des Masques de Boni

Parade the Circle 2010 presented the living traditions of the Bwa people of Africa. These mask makers, musicians, and dancers of Burkina Faso reside at the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. Traveling as La Troupe des Masques de Boni, the African artists were in residence in several community centers and schools throughout Greater Cleveland in the weeks leading up to and following the parade.

Artists from Burkina Faso performed in Parade the Circle 2010 on June 12.

La Troupe des Masques de Boni also headlined activities on Sunday, June 27, as the Cleveland Museum of Art opened its newest door, unveiling renovated galleries of ancient art from the Near East, Greece, Rome, and Egypt, as well as works from late antiquity, the Byzantine Empire, the European Middle Ages, and sub-Saharan Africa.

La Troupe des Masques de Boni is led by Yacouba Bonde, master sculptor, mask maker, and artistic director of the small village of Boni, where he is also the region’s chief. Mr. Bonde works with the men, women, and elders of the region to choreograph grand masked performances that take place annually in the dry season (January to June). In addition to directing these performances, he oversees the initiation of Bwa youth into the masquerade traditions that transmit ancestral knowledge from generation to generation.

During the last decade, Mr. Bonde has led troupes of 14 to 22 musicians, dancers, and mask makers in performances throughout France, Belgium, Holland, and Switzerland. The highlight of these tours was the group’s performance at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris in December 2006. In the United States, his Bwa masks can be found in Atlanta’s High Museum, the University of Iowa Art Museum, and numerous private collections.

Parade artistic director Robin VanLear visited BondeYacouba.



Bonde Yacouba artistic director and sculptor

Ouedraogo Abdoulayesculpture assistant and interpreter

Bonde Gnounoudancer

Bonde Kanoudancer

Gnoumou Nazounoudancer

Gnoumou N’Wamousinger

Gnessien Seydoudancer and drummer

Naganou Zounouyidoubabalafon player

An exhibition of carvings by Yacouba Bonde master carver of the Bwa people of Burkina Faso ran from May 30 until June 25, 2010 at the Morgan Conservatory, 1754 E 47th St. Cleveland, 44103 (between Commerce and Payne).


The visit of the "Troupe des Masques de Boni" has been sponsored by the Cleveland Foundation with the help of Maison Francaise de Cleveland.