Tickets & Events

Olivier Tarpaga, When Birds Refused to Fly

KST Presents

Kelly Strayhorn Theater
5941 Penn Ave

“Steeped in social relevance.”
— The Pittsburgh Post Gazette

When Birds Refused to Fly is a joyful and deeply personal work by award-winning musician, dancer, and choreographer Olivier Tarpaga. Set to the music of Super Volta Orchestra, When Birds Refused to Fly is backed by the sounds of that legendary 1960s Burkina Faso ensemble. As independence movements swept sub-Saharan Africa, Super Volta Orchestra evoked the transforming energies that surged across African nations. In his dance-theater exploration of an expansive political moment, Tarpaga (whose father was a member of Super Volta) dives into the stories behind the sound—and threads the forces of change in Africa to the divergent realities of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

Currently a lecturer at the Lewis Center for the Arts and director of the African Music Ensemble at Princeton University, Tarpaga returns to KST with his company of Ouagadougou-based performers after premiering his last work Declassified Memory Fragment on our stage in 2015.

When Birds Refused to Fly is approximately 75 minutes with no intermission.

Also join us for…

Welcome Dinner and Studio Talk with Olivier Tarpaga
Wednesday, September 25th at 7:00pm at Kelly Strayhorn Theater

Master Class with Olivier Tarpaga
Saturday, September 28th from 12:00pm – 2:00pm at KST’s Alloy Studios.

The presentation of When Birds Refused to Fly is made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Benter Foundation, and contributors to KST’s World Stage Fund.

Photo by Gery Barbot Photographie



Pay What Makes You Happy! Tickets for this event are available at any price. Simply choose the level that makes you happy—or name your own! All seats are general admission.

Tickets on sale NOW!


WHEN BIRDS REFUSED TO FLY (Teaser) from Esther Baker-Tarpaga on Vimeo.