Archive for the ‘Shifting Center Cyber’ 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

Excerpts from Danse l’Afrique danse! festival held in Bamako, Mali 2010. Featured in this video are excerpts from works by Gregory Maqoma, Kubilai Khan Investigations, Radhouane El Meddeb, and Seydou Boro.


Danse l’Afrique Danse in Bamako, Mali 2010

Danse l’Afrique Danse is a platform for African contemporary choreographers- emerging and established. It is a meeting place for choreographers, dancers, presenters, programmers, cultural workers, researchers, and local contemporary dance audiences. It is a competition and launching platform for “new” choreographers where three winners have a pre-programmed tour in fifteen African countries and a European tour.

The 2010 Danse l’Afrique Danse was full of rich performances and exchange. There were over fifty performances- both for concert stage and site-specific works in the Bamako streets. The work ranged from highly physical dance theatre to contemplative installation works; all were engrained with social, personal, and political commentary and messages- at times abstract, at times very specific.

There were panels that discussed the now and future of African contemporary dance as well as feedback sessions for the younger choreographers presenting work. In the evenings we gathered at a local Bamako gathering spot, Rue Princesse to talk, share food, listen to live Malian music, and witness installation projects. The days began at 10am and ended at 4am.

As an America-based choreographer who has attended numerous festivals on the continent, I noticed a larger American, European, and African programming presence than previous years. There is a continued growing interest for contemporary art in Africa. Financing for the Festival came from the French government (Cultures France), The Mali Ministry of Culture, PUMA, and several other organizations. The judging panel consisted of three Africans and four Europeans. There was dialogue amongst the artists about the pros and cons of a contemporary dance competition and the European financing of an African dance competition.

This blog is a continuation of the trace of the powerful and important contemporary dance created by choreographers and dancers from the African continent. We have posted here short video excerpts “traces” that highlight excerpts of work from the Festival.

Respectfully submitted by: Esther Baker-Tarpaga

Part of the Shifting Centers experience is focused on contemporary African dance; yet, in conjunction with this objective, the project is also focused on issues of accessibility, technology, and overall resources available to choreographers and artists in Senegal, Mali, Kenya, and Morocco. Here is a short clip that addresses some of the cultural context we have experienced in Dakar, Senegal.

Photography and post by Kristen Jeppsen Groves

Trace from Dakar: Dance and Technology in and outside of Africa recently finished their work with D-Clic Danse, a dance and technology workshop directed by Andreya Ouamba. Check out our recent video highlighting activities explored in the workshop.

 

Dakar, Senegal:

Video from Ateliers Aex Corps in Dakar, Senegal. This video highlights interviews with choreographers and workshop director Andreya Ouamba in addition to footage with dancer participants in the workshop. This is the fourth edition of Ateliers Aex Corps.

Coming soon is a video of dancers interviews/footage and what types of Internet communication many of the dancers are using.

Written Quote from Andreya Ouamba Atelier Aex Corps Goals:

“Atelier Aex Corps is a project which aims at strengthening the training of the dancer by inviting him to open his mind at new ways of dance expressions. This initiative, which is not new for certain artistic circles in Senegal (Toubab dialaw with l’Ecole des sables), is on the other hand new for the dance community of the city of Dakar. Artists who want to experiment, dancers who have questions such as: understanding how to move their body for a better use, and how to place their body into the space or how their moves and use of the space could be understood…

This project is a journey which is going to take place over three years. A group of 10 dancers is selected to follow each workshop. The duration of the program as well as the restricted numbers of participants will allow a good follow up of the evolution of the dancers. The previous dancers will be first and foremost invited to participate to the following sessions. At the end of every session, the participants are encouraged
to present a personal project. This project can be the beginning of a choreographic construction, a works in progress or an accomplished piece.”

Photo by Steven Gunter

Madagascar

Think-Tank #1: ACCAD lab, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA

June 21, 2010

Esther Baker-Tarpaga held a face-to-face think-tank session with researchers and artists, Olivier Tarpaga, Norah Zuniga-Shaw, Vita Berezina-Blackburn, Matt Lewis, and Nicole Bauguss about the Shifting Center Project. From the hour and a half session the group discussed and brainstormed ideas about the following issues:

  • The Physicality of the Communication
  • Access: Who, Where, When, and How?
  • The Event
  • Points of Departure

The Physicality of the Communication: getting to the nuts and bolts.

The think-tank opened with the very practical question of how to manage technical issues and  challenges of digital communication between the two countries.  The group encouraged the research team to use ongoing networks that link Africa to the US.  Common elements used in Africa include: Skype, blog, email, video, web page, phone text, and social networks like Facebook.  Texting and videos via cell phones are also very popular and accessible.  Another easy way to share information is through screen-capture software; it is free and easily records digital information from desktops. The group also addressed issues of translation from English to French as well as how best to record a trace from each community.

Yet, even with these tools questions arose as to how to make the exchange of information tangible?  What are the physical elements that can be used to create dance?  Visuals, physical text, installations, topography, video, and sound were a few elements that offer fodder for movement creation.  As information is gathered and shared deeper issues about the definitions of network and technology emerged.  What is the current conceptual territory in regards to centers of information and networks?  Should those be interrupted, if so, how?  Ultimately, the group agreed Shifting Center project is about emergent taxonomies, sharing information, and discovering what is the significance of technology as a conceptual base for dance creation; The conceptual space of shifting centers.

Access: Who, When, Where, and How?

The think-tank discussed various points about access, ways of exchanging information, and new ways of using current networks.  A few ideas they discussed include:

  • Twitter – encouraging discussion and dialogue about dance in Africa

◦      Enable Facebook

◦      Use from phones

◦      Use tweets as visual installation or use in the conference

  • Wikified blog – a blog manager organizes, edits, and shapes an open access blog
  • Live Access through webcast: U Stream
  • Hashtag

One of the first questions to address is the available and type of internet access.  In Senegal and Burkina Faso internet cafes are the most common, wireless in common in most countries and Facebook is already in use, yet accessibility is still limited.  Once of the big challenges will be finding locations with strong internet connections that will allow for collaborative dialogue. At each location, universities with the fastest internet connections, such as I2, should be contacted as well as American Cultural Centers, French Cultural Centers, Goethe, US Embassy connections, etc.  Beyond internet, other technologies such as cables from computers to projectors as well as video conferencing rooms will be valuable tools during the project.

The combination of digital tools will allow a live web-stream as a performance medium.  The performer and audience may not be in the same location.  Discussion and dialogue about the performance may occur from locations beyond countries in Africa and Columbus, incorporating a more global community.

The Event

The conversation turned to the actual production itself.  With the available technological resources, what can be created?  The BakerTarpaga Dance Project mission is to address issues of boundaries.  The Shifting Center project hopes to highlight the economic and border challenges that prevent people from connecting to the larger world around them.  Students and communities need to access other areas of education and culture as well as have opportunities to meet and exchange when travel is not an option.  The group brainstormed ideas of how to overcoming borders:

  • Create and Curate – four students on OSU blog to four artists in Morocco or various locations. Through live feed, blogging, and texting students at OSU converse with African artists and may be given assignments and projects to fulfill.  Students may delegate the mode of communication, one on Facebook, one blogging, and another tweeting and determine the best form for collaborative research.
  • Create a score, model, or trial with specific conditions.  Collaborators in Africa and Ohio will create work based on trials.  Create responses and use responses as continual fodder for artistic creation.
  • Give specific instructions and actions via the web: NZ Shaw “turn six times”
  • Create video project for DTW’s tweet project
  • A week-long workshop dedicated to collaborative creation and learning via the web
  • Take or offer a dance class via the web
  • Audience exchange with choreographer’s from countries in Africa
  • Live-feed exchanges

◦      issues around time zones

◦      video image can be partial and disappointing

◦      what other elements besides a moving body can be live-streamed?

As ideas developed the next question arose: How do we make it happen?  The group agreed there should be some type of live element involved in the process or product.  The project should also have a traveling took kit: small projector, camera, tri-pod, and other recording tools to capture and collect various traces of the project.  The projector may offer tactile nature of dance and performance and allow crowds to interact not just with images but with sounds as well.

Digital sharing brought up many questions about how environment relates to meaning in regards to dance.  What is a meaningful communication related to dance?  What does dance feel like when you’re in Dakar, or Ohio, or Senegal? What is relevant to the choreographers? What are the dance ideas that work well with bodies from various locations? What elements are limited to the locale, i.e. air, humidity?  What is dance conversation in Morocco versus Mali?  What are the key words used for dance in each area? How will altered definitions change the meaning in various dance cultures?  Any ideas shared should center around the goal of shifting ideas, getting ideas to move between stationary locations.

Points of Departure

Near the end of the think-tank session the group discussed examples of other projects that have created works based on similar processes.  Locative Media Links connects participants via phone computer and guides movement scores, somewhat like a flash mob, but with specific goals to accomplish during the score.  This might be a launching point for a movement score that uses text messaging.  The score may be exploring certain public spaces, walking around on the street, or it could be narrative.

Another company Blast Theory from Rotterdam, UK uses recordings from participants’ daily experiences.  For example, a recorded description of a bike ride, or another may include  a short story from a person’s life.  The prompts are very well crafted and produce interesting material.  We may glean this idea and consider theatrically crafted prompts that may generate interesting movement for the masses.

Other ideas generated around this one concept: make playful use of what is and what people have.

  • Make use of GPS location; meet someone at this coordinate, speak with someone who is leading, using text messages.
  • Camera Phones; use photos
  • Send a text message to a number that everyone can access or have entrance to a system
  • Encourage comments/responses on blog posts; think of structures that encourage participation online.

As the conversation continued, think-tankers encouraged us to integrate the flow of ideas and to find a common language and interest.  As forms of communication are explored they encouraged us to consider what forms feel the most satisfying and meaningful.  In process-based research it is often only the product that is seen; how can the process be more transparent?  They encouraged us to think how the process can connect with audiences more than just through the final performance or product.

As with any research it is difficult to anticipate outcomes, and particularly with the ephemerality of dance, this becomes extremely challenging.  Yet, the process should offer something, it should add to the critical dialogue and begin the process of shifting centers of common products in dance to innovative and creative processes.

The conversation shifted to building networks and collaborations that can build conditions to address some of these issues. Norah will be incorporating her improv class with a group of dancers in Senegal; they may send movement scores to each other, use sound scores from various locations, or improv based on various conditions that are unique to the location.  Esther will continue to gather visuals, objects, and other collection items while in Africa: photos and posts will be updated every other day.  The research team in Africa will also be gathering opinions from artists:  What integrative projects are interesting or needed?  Where is dance relevant and what are audience’s responses?

Written by: Kristen Jeppsen Groves, Media Manager