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Since the early 1960s, the Royal Drummers and Dancers of Burundi have specialized in theatricalized versions of dances normally performed at birth celebrations, funerals, and tributes to kings. Their infectious “Burundi beat,” recorded by French anthropologists for a 1968 field-recording compilation, has captivated the West for decades now—listen to Joni Mitchell’s The Hissing of Summer Lawns for evidence of that. While the group’s 18 members were not part of the ensemble when it first began, they’ve faithfully carried the Royal Drummers’ tradition, balancing tree-trunk-sized instruments on their heads and moving with marching-band precision in a visceral performance that is as hard to replicate as it is to forget.
The Royal Drummers and Dancers of Burundi perform at 4 p.m. at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas. $30-$46. hyltoncenter.org. (703) 993-7759.