Internationally known Congolese dancer Malonga Casquelourd died Sunday June 15 in an Oakland, Calif., car crash while returning from his niece’s graduation party. He was 55. He was hit head-on by a car going the wrong way on a one-way street. Martin Burgermyer, 35, was arrested for suspected drunken driving and vehicular manslaughter.
Casquelourd, a choreographer, dancer, master drummer, singer and actor, spent half his life teaching the moves and music of his Congolese homeland at the Alice Arts Center in Oakland.
By 1965, he was a principal dancer with the National Congolese Dance Company, touring Africa, Europe, and North America. He later moved to Europe as choreographer and principal performer with Le Ballet Diaboua.
In 1972, he moved to New York and co-founded Tanawa, the first central African dance company in the United States. He also taught at several New York-area universities. When he moved to Oakland in the mid-1970s, he joined CitiCentre Dance Theatre to teach. He also created his own dance troupe, Fua Dia Congo, which include his four children.
Casquelourd had currently been leading Fua Dia Congo through performances at major U.S. venues as well as teaching at San Francisco State University since 1977.