Presented in partnership with McCarter Theatre Center and the Department of Music at Princeton University, part of Timbuktu Grooves: The Princeton African Music Festival, presented by the Music Department.

Olivier Tarpaga’s deeply humanist piece, Once the Dust Settles Flowers Bloom, gives voice and body to the refugees of Burkina Faso and the Sahel region, who, having fled the shadow of jihadists, settle in camps far from their homes. Looking beyond the horror, the work channels the strength and beauty of this displaced population. With six dancers and five musicians who count themselves among the best in Africa, Tarpaga confronts the tragedy of his homeland with a “feminist Africanist” piece that carries the hope that once the dust has settled, flowers will bloom again, and the songs and dances will return.

Tarpaga, a dancer, choreographer, musician, and composer, is the founder and artistic director of the Dafra Drum ensemble and Dafra Kura Band, and he is a co-founder of Burkina Faso’s internationally acclaimed Compagnie Ta. He is a Lester Horton Award-winning choreographer/director of the African Music Ensembles at Princeton University.

The show includes a reading in French. Show duration is 70 minutes.

Video Trailer

Once the dust settles, flowers bloom (Teaser) from Olivier Tarpaga on Vimeo.

Show Tickets & Details

Tickets for this performance are $25-65 for general audiences. Princeton University students can access free tickets through the Passport to the Arts program using code PUTIGER. Tickets must be booked online with student ID.

Purchase tickets online through McCarter Box Office


Get directions to the Matthews Theatre at McCarter Theatre Center, located at 91 University Place in Princeton.


symbol for wheelchair accessibilityThe Matthews Theatre is wheelchair accessible. The show includes a reading in French.

View accessibility information for McCarter Theatre Center. Guests in need of access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at 609-258-5262 or email at least one week in advance of the event date.


Photo Gallery

Production Credits

Concept, direction and choreography: Olivier Tarpaga
Creation and performance: Ousséni Dabaré, Joannie Christie Dossou, Aicha Kaboré, Jean Robert Koudogbo-Kiki, Michael Nana, Sofia Nmili, Sylvie Sanou
Rehearsal directors: Abdoul Aziz Zoundi, Oussení Dabaré
Music composition: Olivier Tarpaga
Music composed with and performed by: Issouf Dembélé (drums), Boubacar Djiga (djeli ngoni), Seydou Koïta (acoustic guitar and bass guitar), Wassa Kouyaté (kora and lead vocal), Yann Moni (electric guitar)
Set design: Michaela Solnická Volná
Dramaturgy: Janera Solomon, Aristide Tarnagda
Costumes: Olivier Tarpaga
Lighting design and technical direction: Fabrice Barbotin
Project management in Burkina Faso: Sankhof´Arts Productions
Production: Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project
Co-commission: The Joyce Theater – New York, Charleroi danse, Centre chorégraphique de Wallonie – Bruxelles, The Department of Music at Princeton University – USA, French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) – New York

Major residency support: CDC la Termitière (Burkina Faso), Institut français de Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), Charleroi-Danse (Belgium), Catskills Mountain Foundation (USA)

Acknowledgement: Cyril Givort, Sylvie Guellé, Pierre Muller, Yacouba Ouedraogo, Tatiana Gueria Nade, Eric Nebié

Olivier Tarpaga is a 2022 NDP Finalist Grant Award recipient. Support was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Mellon Foundation to address continued sustainability needs during COVID-19 and in support of Once the dust settles, flowers bloom.


Presented By

  • Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Department of Music
  • L’Avant-Scène
  • McCarter Theatre Center