Saturday

The true epic of the Lion King doesn’t involve an adorable little animated scamp named Simba. Sundiata, the Lion King of Mali, was—some 800 years ago—a young prince who was unable to speak or walk. After Sundiata triumphed over those disabilities, his father’s first wife exiled him, worried that he, rather than her own son, would ascend to the throne. At the age of 28, he returned to Mali, took his rightful place as king, thwarted aggressors and restored peace and prosperity to his kingdom. Various versions of the story have been shared for centuries—-retellings from Disney and Broadway have raked in a ludicrous amount of dough. But for its annual Labor Day Weekend Family Reunion—four days of performances and workshops—the nonprofit KanKouran West African Dance Company will stage Sundiata: The Lion King of Mali, a production that strips the great epic of Hollywood artifice. In line with KanKouran’s mission to preserve and perpetuate traditional West African culture, the production will feature dance and music—including a special guest performance from Malian musician Chiekh Amala Diabate. You won’t miss Timon and Pumbaa one bit when KanKouran West African Dance Company performs at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2, at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. NW. $25. (202) 397-7328. (Sarah Godfrey)

More from WCP