Olivier Tarpaga is a Lester Horton Award-winning dancer-choreographer and musician, a dance lecturer at the Lewis Center for the Arts, and a music lecturer and the director of the African music ensemble for Princeton University’s Department of Music.

Tarpaga is the founder and artistic director of the internationally acclaimed Dafra Drum and Dafra Kura Band and co-founder of the Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project.

Tarpaga was exposed to music and multiple instruments at an early age by his father and his nationally acclaimed Orchestre Super Volta during daily rehearsals at their family compound in Ouagadougou and taught himself music.

He danced with David Rousseve/ REALITY from 2006 to 2010, when he was also a State Department Art Envoy in South Africa, Botswana, Burkina Faso, and Sri Lanka. 

Commissions and posts include: Wind of Nomads (2017) for Malaysia’s internationally renowned HANDS percussion; RESIST, RESURGE: Traces of Hope (2015) for MAYA dance theater of Singapore; The way of sands (2012) for the Temple of Fine Arts in Perth, Australia, Visage for Zig Zag Ballet at the Rich Forum Stanford Center for the Arts in Connecticut (2008), and an appointment to the Ministry of Culture of Niger to train and mentor Abdallah Dance Company and serve as an artistic advisor during the making of Une pour trois for the Francophonie games in Nice, France (2013).

Tarpaga has performed and recorded with celebrity rock star POE at Capitol Records in Hollywood. In 2008, he was invited to re-interpret Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 with West African instruments for a sold-out concert with British singer Billy Bragg and numerous guests at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, California.

Tarpaga is a recipient of numerous major grants including NEFA’s National Dance Project (NDP) award, the Suitcase Fund from New York Live Arts, a Chime Mentorship Fellowship with David Rousseve as his mentor, the Durfee Foundation ARC, and grants from the Ohio Arts Council and the Flourish Foundation.

Tarpaga is the artistic director of the Nomad Express International Multi-Arts Festival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and has performed and taught dance in fifty countries throughout Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania.