A Bird Dance near Saturday City

Sidi Ballo and the Art of West African Masquerade

By Patrick McNaughton
Buy Book

Indiana University Press, 2008

ISBN 978-0-253-21984-8

328 Pages


In 1978, Patrick McNaughton witnessed a bird dance masquerade in the small town of Dogoduman. He was so affected by this performance that its dazzling artistic power has never left him. As he revisits that very special evening in A Bird Dance near Saturday City, McNaughton carefully considers the components of the performance, its pace, the performers, and what the entire experience means for understandings of Bamana and West African aesthetics and culture. The performance of virtuoso dancer Sidi Ballo becomes McNaughton's vehicle for understanding the power of individuals in African art and the power of aesthetics as a cultural phenomenon. Topics such as what makes art effective, what makes it "good," how production is wrapped in individual virtuosity, and what individual artistry suggests about society reveal how individuals work together to create the indelible experience of outstanding performance. This exuberant and captivating book will influence views of society, culture, art, history, and their makers in West Africa for years to come.



Introduction: An Explosion of Art at Dogoduman

Part 1. The Bird Dance at Dogoduman
1. The Performance
2. How to View a Bird Dance

Part 2. Sidi Ballo and the Disposition of Individuals
3. Sidi Ballo at Dogoduman
4. A Closer Look at Sidi Ballo
5. Individuals Intertwined

Part 3. From Dogoduman to an Aesthetic of Affect
6. Sidi Ballo's Aesthetic Milieu
7. Form Reconsidered in Mande Light
8. A Mande Aesthetic Profile
9. An Aesthetic of Affect

Part 4. Making Meaning with a Bird
10. Expanding the Beholder's Share
11. An Atmosphere for Sidi Ballo's Bird Dance

Conclusion: Bird Masquerading Is Alive and Well



Patrick McNaughton is Chancellor's Professor of African Art at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is author of Mande Blacksmiths (IUP, 1988).

Online media for this book