Saturday, June 24, 2017

Culture in store

Culture in store

After finding success as an entertainer in Las Vegas, a Senegalese dancer opens a unique business with a mind on community.

BY KIMBERLY BAILEY-TUREAUD

Owner Wassa Coulibaly in front of the Baobab Stage Theatre.

Ten years ago, Wassa Coulibaly was living in her native Senegal, where the producers of a show from the United States, called Cirque du Soleil, were visiting and holding auditions for tribal dancers. Incorporating her native tribal dance into her audition, she was selected as a Cirque du Soleil dancer and headed to Las Vegas.

It was a successful endeavor, but today Coulibaly is looking to challenge herself in another career.

“It kind of happened organically,” said Coulibaly. “I didn’t have the dream to be a business owner — it just happened. I was initially looking for a place to showcase the play I wrote, and came across the retail space in Town Square with a theater attached. I secured the space, and knew that my friends and I would enjoy having a place where we can perform and bring more culture to Las Vegas.”

The theater is called The Baobab Stage, where weekly performances of a burlesque and cabaret show called “Red Dress” have already earned a following. “The shows have been great and attended by many who visit Town Square,” Coulibaly said. “Right now we depend on word-of-mouth promotion, and we see people coming back with their friends. It is a family affair of performers who all contribute to productions.”

As you enter the Baobab Stage Theatre, you are greeted by the Wassa Wear Boutique — which is full of colorful garments for sale. The retail portion “is open every day from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m., and offers all handmade casual wear made by me,” said Coulibaly. “I started my clothing line because these are clothes that I like to wear. Also, I do custom design if someone wants a particular style and color.”

Inside the Baobab Stage Theatre

The unique design of the Town Center storefront also offers a fully-licensed bar that complements the attached theater space. “We are open to having people rent our theater to showcase their plays and productions — and everything is negotiable on a case-by-case basis,” Coulibaly said. “The Baobab Stage Theatre belongs to the community, so everyone is encouraged to enjoy it. It’s everybody’s.”

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