This blog features Women Choreographers THAT ROCK: Juliette Omollo (Kenya), Mamela Nyamza (South Africa), Nelisiwe Xaba (South Africa), Fatou Cisse (Senegal), Nadia Beugre (Ivory Coast), Kettly Noel (Mali/Haiti), Julie Iarisoa (Madagascar).
These interviews are primarily shot during the Danse L’Afrique Danse in Bamako, Mali 2010. Kettly Noel was the festival director and hosted numerous companies from all over the African continent and invited guests from all over the globe. She also performed a work she had created previously and you can see excerpts of this duet along with her comments in a short interview on women in this video. Nelisiwe Xaba is a phenomenal choreographer/performance artist. I like to call her a visual artist because she takes such care of her costumes and props and space. She speaks on women and dance and the struggles around this and her choreographic work speaks on immigration, race, slavery, exoticism, the gaze of the African as exotic/primitive. Her work is crafted clearly and look for an upcoming video where I interview her about her work in depth. Also Nelisiwe and Kettly have a duet that will be touring the USA next year so look for that. Nadia Beugre performed at the opening of the festival a new solo she has crafted and her entrance through the audience as she crawled over us singing took us by surprise and made us laugh. Her strength and agility and presence are powerful in her solo along with the costume of plastic bottles she wears. This interview speaks on some of her themes in this solo. Mamela Nyamza performed at the Festival in Mali and also spoke on the panel while at the Festival. I captured a few moments of her dialogue and her solo with pointe shoes, red laundry being hung, and rhythmic spinal undulations in distress. Julie Iarasoa I spoke with following her winning a cash prize for her work from PUMA Creative. She presented a work with all male dancers from Madagascar who drew from hip hop and contemporary movements sporting white wigs and dresses.
I spoke with Juliette Omollo in Nairobi Kenya as she organized the Dance Forum Nairobi with her colleagues at the Go Down Center. This small festival featured the work of Kenyan based choreographers and International choreographers, as well as training programs for young Kenyan dancers. I caught up with Fatou Cisse in Senegal where she had just returned with touring with Compagnie 1ere Temps and organizing Atelier Aex Corps training workshop for dancers based in and around Senegal.
All these women inspire. They are amazing choreographers, teachers, directors, and leaders in their communities and internationally.
Nelisiwe Xaba Bio:
Xaba was born and raised in Soweto (South Africa), and received a scholarship to study at the Johannesburg Dance Foundation. After studying dance in London (with a 1996 Ballet Rambert Scholarship), she returned home to join Pact Dance Company, where she was a company member for several years, and with whom she toured to Europe and the Middle East. She worked with a variety of choreographers, visual and theater artists, particularly Robyn Orlin, with whom she created works such as Keep the Home Fires Burning, Down Scaling down, Life after the credits roll, and Daddy I’ve seen this piece six times before and I still don’t know why they’re hurting each other, which toured for several years in Europe and Asia, winning the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance. In 2001, Ms. Xaba began to focus on her choreographic voice, creating solo and group dance works that have been performed in Africa and Europe, including Dazed and confused, No Strings Attached 1, No Strings Attached 2, Be My Wife (BMW) (commissioned by the Soweto Dance Project), Black!…White and Plasticization. Ms. Xaba has also collaborated as choreographer and dancer with fashion designers, opera productions, music videos, television productions, and multimedia performance projects.
Nadia Beugre Bio:
Born in Zikisso, Côte d’Ivoire, Nadia Beugré made her first appearances with Dante Theatre in 1995. In 1997, she became a member of the ground-breaking all-female dance ensemble, Compagnie TchéTché, founded by Béatrice Kombé. She performed with the company for eight years, touring in Africa, Europe, and North America. Following Ms. Kombé’s untimely death in 2007, Ms. Beugré began to create her own works. These include un espace vide: moi, performed in Tunis, Burkina Faso, England, and France; 120 M/h, a collaboration with choreographers (and childhood friends) Michel Kouakou and Daudet Glazaï, which was developed in the U.S. at Bates Dance Festival and VSA New Mexico/North Fourth Art Center, and premiered in Germany at Dansart Bielefeld 2010 Biennale; and Quartiers Libres, which premiered at the 2010 Danse L’Afrique danse festival in Mali. She trained at the Centre Choréographiques in Montpelier, France with Mathilde Monnier; at l’Ecole des Sables in Senegal with Germaine Acogny; and at the Center for Choreographic Development in Burkina Faso with Carolyn Carlson and Burkinabé Bourou Amadou.
Kettly Noel Bio:
Originally from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, choreographer and dancer Kettly Noël has created a body of dance work over the past 15 years, seen widely in Africa and Europe, that deals with identity and the fight for position of African artists and women, and includes Ti’chelbé, Errance, L’Autre, Zones Humides Imaginaires and Bonjour Madame Noël. She began dancing at the age of 17 with the Haitian-American Dance Theatre (now World Dance Theatre), and relocated to Paris in the early 1990s, where she trained as a dancer and actress and founded her first company. In 1996, she moved to Benin, where she continued to develop her choreographic technique while starting a program to train youngsters in contemporary dance. Ms. Noël relocated to Mali in 1999, and founded Donko Seko, an organization where she built a space for dance workshops and choreographic research (with the first dance floor in Bamako); established the Bamako Dance Festival (the first international festival of contemporary dance in Mali); and expanded her dance training program for youth and adults. In 2010, Donko Seko hosted the biennial Danse L’Afrique dance festival.
Julie Iarisoa Bio:
In 2000, Julie began taking courses to local and foreign choreographers such as: Zoë ANDRIANJANAKA, Ariry Andriamoratsiresy, Valerie Berger, Eric MEZINO, Herwann Asseh, Faustin Linyekula Okach Opiyo, Salia Sanou, Bernardo MONTET and frequently takes part in choreography presented at cultural events such as Madagascar: Karajia, SANGA. Julie is assiduous in dance and artistic workshops organized in Madagascar. In 2003, she joined the Rary’s company. She follows her designs all over the island and in Slovenia, Burkina Faso and Kenya. She perceives the subtle blend of contemporary dance and dance and traditional Malagasy develops a taste for precision of movement. Dance is also on the street in Madagascar and informal meetings with street dancers become regular appointment for Julie. She found energy, novelty and freedom of expression … In 2002 she met Eric Mézino (Choreographer Hip Hop French) and a participant in Franco-Malagasy and creating “Tany Mena – red earth” for 3 years. In 2004 Julie creates and runs her own contemporary dance company “Anjorombala”. She choreographed and danced the parts “Anjorombala” and “Ambanja.” The company gives several performances at the French Cultural Center in Madagascar and “Danse l’Afrique Danse” festival in Paris in 2006. Throughout the year 2007, Julie took classes at professional dance training contemporary CMDC (Tunisia) and began his collaboration with dancer choreographer Chad Yaya Sarria who continued to Madagascar, Mayotte, Chad. Julie loves adventures beyond its artistic fields and in 2008, Mayotte, she participated in the peace “Lifâat Mat” of the theater company “Istanbul”. In 2008, she embarked on an exercise must for the choreography, the SOLO. “Blur” was presented in Antananarivo (Albert Camus Cultural Centre) and Mayotte in the festival “happening on stage.” She arrived in Paris in January 2009, thanks to the artist’s residence established by the “Recollects – Mairie de Paris” to work on his second solo. For that, she was greeted by “Micadanses” and the “Centre national de la danse” in Paris. It was in April and May 2009 the National Choreographic Centre of Tours hosted by Bernardo Montet and in June at Quartz in Brest by the company “Moral Soul” of Herwann Asseh. Her latest play “Sang couleur” (quartet) was the subject of several local chapters and two performances in Mayotte in 2009 and 2010, The peace also had the price “Puma Creative” in the competition “Danse l’Afrique danse”in Bamako in November 2010. Julie Iarisoa would be the representative of Madagascar for the formation choreography “chrysalis” to be held in Senegal, Kenya and Burkina Faso from 2010 to 2011.
Mamela Nyamza began dancing at the age of eight at Zama Dance School in Gugulethu. She formally trained in Pretoria and won a scholarship to study at the Alvin Ailey Dance School in New York. Choreographing, directing, and performing her own pieces, Nyamza has performed in musicals, festivals and theaters. She courageously confronted childhood events in the Eighties, tackled cultural traditions, and highlights cotemporary social ills around themes of men and (mostly) women’s roles and issues. As a dance activist in schools through Project Move, she speaks to youth about HIV/Aids, domestic violence and drug abuse through her art.
Submitted by Esther Baker-Tarpaga