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Henri Gao Bi

Henri is a master percussionist, musician, and musical director from Cote d’Ivoire. Since his childhood Henri has dedicated himself to the traditional drumming patterns of his country. He is thought by many to be the finest exponent of traditional djembe playing in Britain. The ability he has to sustain the rhythmic pulse alongside the most complex solo patterns ensures the result is a dynamic musical whole. Henri plays a wide range of Ivorian instruments that include djembe, doundounba, balaton and talking drum.
Henri comes from the Guru community of West Central Cote d’Ivoire. He is of the Gouro tribe, and has come from a long family tradition of musicians, dancers and weavers. He himself first started drumming when he was 6 years old, with metal pans and performing with the National Ballet of Ivory Coast by the time he was 18.
Henri has lived in England since 1992.
Whilst in Central Cote d’Ivoire, Henri worked with a long list of companies and musicians, including the National Ballet of Ivory Coast, performing nationally and internationally as a dancer and musician, The Ballet Girivoire with director Marie-Rose Giro, Vieu Conde, Company Dakati, and with Kuruma Mousa amongst others.
In Britain Henri has performed with artists such as Peter Batajoe (at the Place in Euston), The Master Drummers of Africa (at various venues including the Royal Festival Hall), Batanai Marimba, the Zuruya Theatre company, Alafia, Ayoroko Theatre Company, “Peppersoup”, and Azido where he introduced Ivory Coast rhythms and dances of Zouli, Tematai and Zagrobi amonsgt others. He has also performed in variety of well-known venues such as the Lyric Theatre, and the Eurico Theatre amongst others.
Henri’s company “Kaago” was set up in 1993, with fellow Ivory Coast dancers
Gaspard Zamble and Rose Zan Lou. Kaago, a guru word means, “Let’s go”. The group consists of a troupe of equally experienced dancers, performers and

Gaspard Zamble and Rose Zan Lou. Kaago, a guru word means, “Let’s go”. The group consists of a troupe of equally experienced dancers, performers and
musicians from Ivory Coast and West Africa, creating an intense vehicle for African drumming and dancing. Performances are rich and varied. They incorporate singing, mime theatre and a rare opportunity to see authentic village mask dances presented by artists familiar with its steps and aware of their significance since childhood. Strength and grace characterise the work these artists do together, producing and excitement and joy bordering on ecstasy. Henri's CD entitled Kaago (2005) features some guest musicians and rhythms from Congo, South Africa and Ivory Coast.
Kaago have been performing at festivals, theatres, private celebrations as well as run workshops in schools since 1993, in London and all over Britain, so have a wealth of experience of working with adults and children.
Henri also runs drumming classes and workshops nationally, and over the last 15 years regular drumming classes in south, west and central London.
Henri sees drumming and dance as healing, a way of creating enjoyment, lifting spirits and spreading happiness and joy. Music is the love of his life.