Archive for the ‘Kenya’ Category

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

Nigerian-based choreographer, teacher, and performer Adedeyo Liadi speaks and performs in Nairobi, Kenya as part of the Festival for Solos and Duets organized by Dance Forum-Nairobi.

Choreographer and dancer Opiyo Okach is the director of Gaara Dance Projects. He works between Kenya and France and performs globally. This blog posting includes three interviews with him. Opiyo Okach speaks on his current choreographic projects “Territories in Transgression” and reflects on his previous project “Shift Centre.” In addition he speaks on the Go Down Arts Center, a thriving multidisciplinary arts complex, based in the Industrial Section of Nairobi.

Opiyo Okach- Director of Gaara Dance Projects speaks on his new research and choreography: Territories in Transgression. This video highlights his reflections on the development of this project and dance images from his new work “Border Border Express.”

Interview and dance footage with Kenyan choreographer Opiyo Okach, Artistic Director of Gaara Dance Projects. Opiyo Okach reflects on his project Shift Centre and contemporary dance.

Our meetings with Opiyo took place at the Go Down Arts Center in Nairobi, Kenya where he was an artist in residence for many years. We could see his influence with the next generation of choreographers who were organizing a festival of Solos and Duets at the time we were there; footage excerpts from Dance Forum-Nairobi Festival of Solos and Duets 2010.

Opiyo Okach also influenced the creation of this blog. The impetus for this blog project is from my ten years experience as a cross-cultural choreographer in Africa and North America and the work of African-based choreographers such as Opiyo Okach, who in 2006 said, “The danger that recurs today is that the 
centre should be situated in one place; a place that holds monopoly of truth, a place that proscribes right or wrong, a place that determines good from bad…
Shift…centre… is not just a statement on the aesthetics of space, it is also about political and social reality.”- Okach, Gaara Dance, Kenya.

 

Opiyo Okach Bio:

Maintaining his place on the international contemporary dance scene Opiyo Okach divides his time & develops work between France and Kenya. Through a long term choreographic development initiative Okach has acted as a catalyst for new directions and perspectives in dance and continues to support the emergence of a new generation of dance artists in East Africa. Having received the ‘prix du Nouveau Talent Chorégraphiques SACD 2003’ Okach was awarded a ‘Prince Claus Award for Culture and Development 2005’.

Artistic director of the first contemporary dance company in Kenya Opiyo Okach remains the principle figure of the choreographic landscape of eastern Africa. The prize at the second Rencontres Chorégraphiques Africaines 1998, for the company’s first work – Cleansing, places him amongst the first of a new generation of choreographers from Africa.

Trained at the Desmond Jones School of Mime and Physical Theatre in London Opiyo Okach
integrates dance in his work on his return to Kenya in 1995 and following research on traditional ritual and performance. During the same period he encounters the choreographers
Alphonse Tiérou, Irène Tassembedo and Germaine Acogny.

In I996 Opiyo joins Faustin Linyekula and Afrah Tenambergen to form the first contemporary dance company in Kenya, La Compagnie Gàara. With its creation, ‘Cleansing’, in which the mundane gesture of everyday cleaning gravitates towards violent purification; the company wins a prize at the Rencontres Chorégraphiques Africaines 1998. For the company Cleansing opens the door to the international scene (Montpellier Danse – France, MASA – Cote d’Ivoire, St Leu Danse – Reunion…). It also marks the beginning of support by principle figures of French dance such as Régine Chopinot or Mathilde Monnier.

From 1998 the Ballet Atlantique Régine Chopinot actively supports and partners the group through a series of residencies and choreographic exchange. In 1999, she supports, in collaboration with the Centre Chorégraphique de Montpellier, the company’s new creation, ‘Rituals of the Rock’, consisting notably of the solo ‘Dilo’ for which Opiyo Okach would become known in Europe. Between 2000 & 2002 Opiyo Okach lays the bases for a long time choreographic development project in Nairobi – Générations 2001, with the support of Ballet Atlantique Régine Chopinot, Association Française d’Action Artistique, Maison Française de Nairobi, Ford Foundation and the program Unesco-Aschberg Bursary for Culture. The project combines dancer training, residency programs, research and choreographic creation.

In 2002 the choreographic creation ‘Abila’ emerges from this project, nourished by collaboration between Kenyan artists of different disciplines and exchange with two European composers and a video artist. Premiered in Nairobi and at Ballet Atlantique and Centre National de la Danse in France, the creation is presented in 11 countries in Eastern, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean region (French Cultural Centres, MASA), Iles de Danse in France and several European countries (Germany, Belgium and Italy) – a first for a company from the region.

Following its discovery at Plateaux de Biennale du Val-de-Marne 2001, the solo, ‘Dilo’ is noticed at Festival Avignon 2002 at the Hivernales. Dilo is based on improvisation and instant composition work, inspired by the mythology of nomadic ethnic groups in eastern Africa. The solo tours internationally to over 17 countries.

In 2003 the society of authors and dramatic composers (SACD) awards Opiyo Okach the prix du Nouveau Talent Chorégraphique 2003. In the framework of ‘Vif du Sujet’ the SACD commissions him to create a new solo for Festival d’Avignon 2003. His collaboration with Julyen Hamilton, the renowned improviser, gives birth to the solo ‘No Man’s Gone Now’ an instant composition work. Following cancellation of Festival Avignon 2003 and Festival Paris Quartier d’Ete ‘No Man…’ premieres at Centre National de la Danse in January 2004 and has since known international success (Soirées Nomades of Fondation Quartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Plateaux de la Biennale du Val-de-Marne, Aix en Provence, Nouvelles Strasbourg Danse in France, Drei Wochen mit Pina Bausch in Düsseldorf Germany, Fabbrica Europa in Italy, Fitheb in Benin, Festival of Dhow Countries in Zanzibar, Godown Arts Centre Nairobi…).

2004 is rich in new transversal collaboration, notably with choreographer Thierry Niang, hosted in residency in Nairobi. The project results in the duo, ’Free Figures’, presented in France at Festival d’Uzes, 3 Bis Aix and Théâtres en Dracénie. It also marks the beginning of collaboration with choreographer Emmanuel Grivet for the duo, ‘Accords Perdus’ created at Regards du Cygne in Paris November 2004. ‘Accords Perdus’ is subsequently presented at Centro Cultura de Matadero (Huesca Spain), Danse Bamako Dance (Mali) and Pôle Sud (Nouvelles Strasbourg Danse)…

Opiyo’s recent work, ‘shift…centre’, (creation 2005-09) touching on relationships of identity, space and perception is in the form an evolutive process in which each series of performances is specifically created. ‘shift…centre…’ premiered in Nairobi and has been presented in France – Francophonies de Limoges, Danse L’Afrique Danse Paris, Platform Danse Bastia, Theater der Welt – Germany and toured in Southern Africa and Brazil.

In 2007 Opiyo choreographed ‘Take it Away’ for Andreya Ouamba with the SACD/Festival
Avignon program ‘Sujet à Vif’

Opiyo is currently developing the choreographic project ‘Territories in Transgression’. The first work of the project ‘Border Border Express’ – a solo in collaboration with electro acoustic musician, Alejandro Olarte, and scenographer, J C Lanquetin – premiered at the Rencontres Internationales de Seine Saint Denis in May 2009. ‘Body Evidence’ – a solo from the project is in development. A work process of ‘Body Evidence’ was presented during residency at Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts, San Francisco in May 2011. The quatuor ‘We don’t care what flag you’re waving’ – is also in development.

In September 2012 ‘The house that never walked’ a piece for 9 dancers from Africa and Europe produced by Steptext Dance Project premiered at Schwankhalle in Bremen, Germany.

Today Opiyo Okach is also artistic director of Gaara Dance Foundation – created in 2002 to consolidate the choreographic activity initiated in Kenya. Its activities include choreographic research, artist residency, choreographic exchange, support for creation and diffusion of work. Regional and pan African exchange such as the Dance Encounters (East African Dance Encounters 2003, Retracing Connections 2004, ‘Encoding identities’) initiated in 2003 are part of its mission. From 2011 Okach initiated a new dance development program – Performance Lab Nairobi – a collaborative process for contemporary creation. The third edition of the program involving 20 dancers/choreographers from different African countries – Chrysalides – is organinsed in collaboration with CDC La Termitiére, Ouagadougou and Ecole des Sables, Toubaba Dialaw.

Interview with Fernando Anuagn’a solo “Journey to the Future” presented at Danse l’Afrique danse! 2010. His interview is part of BT Dance Project’s Shifting Centers: Dance and Technology in and outside of Africa which highlights current contemporary African dance work throughout various countries in Africa.

Photography by Charles Kang

Shifting Centers Cyber Dance Project

Over the course of seven months, we’ll go to seven countries: Senegal, Mali, Morocco, Kenya, South Africa, Burkina Faso, and Madagascar.  The American and African transnational traveling team will meet established African-based choreographers in their home cities and document the conversations and movement dialogues in a blog and video journal.  The subject of the dialogue will be centered on how to connect artists through digital spaces as a way to develop artistic exchange and innovation by shifting centers physically and digitally.  How can cyberlearning and ubiquitous technologies be utilized to tap into collaborative engagement across geographical distance?

Eliminating a center leaves reality in the form of experienced traces…erasable traces that are made permanent through web-based interactions and digital communities. Shifting Centers Cyber Dance project will create traces of artistic experience through performance, collaborative choreography and artistic exchange and innovation by creating digital spaces and web-based forums…

Project Director: Esther Baker-Tarpaga

Cultural and Travel Consultant: Olivier Tarpaga

Media Manager: Kristen Jeppsen, graduate research assistant

Creative Technology Consultant: Norah Zuniga-Shaw

Visual Designer: Nicole Bauguss

Artist Consultants and Collaborators (subject to shift during project): Opiyo Okach (Kenya), Hind Benali (Morocco), Andreya Ouamba (Senegal), Gregory Maquoma (South Africa), Gaby Saranouffi (Madagascar).

Photography by Steven A. Gunther