CINEMAY – Season II, Episode III: Fagaala by Germaine Acogny

Saturday, March 2 at 7:00 pm In the third episode of CINEMAY’s second season, May Zarhy will present Germaine Acogny’s work Fagaala. Acogny (1944, Porto-Novo, Benin) is a renowned Senegalese dancer and choreographer, known as “the mother of Contemporary African dance.” In 1968 Acogny established her first dance studio in Dakar, and since then she has become a major figure in African dance, uniting contemporary dance with traditional West African Dances. Thanks to the influence of the ritual dances she had inherited from her grandmother, a Yoruba priest, and to her training in traditional West African dances and Occidental dances (classic and modern), Acogny developed her unique technique. 

From 1977 to 1982, Acogny was the director of Mudra Afrique, the first Panafrican Dance School  established by Léopold Sédar Senghor, the first president of Senegal, and choreographer Maurice Bejart. In 1995, she decided to return to Senegal, where she founded along with her husband Helmut Vogt, the “Ecole des Sables” – an international dance school that has become a unique center for traditional and contemporary African dances. In 1998, together with the dancers who had participated in the first workshop at the “Ecole des Sables” in Toubab Dialaw, she founded the Jant-Bi Dance Company, which latest creation was made in 2014 under the direction of the renowned South African choreographer Robyn Orlin.

At age 74, Acogny continues touring the world performing, teaching, choreographing and producing, and she is one of the foremost promoters of African dance. In 2008, the African Magazine Jeune Afrique featured Germaine as part of the “100 personalities who make Africa.”

About Fagaala (2004) The conception of Fagaala goes back to the year 2000, when Acogny read Murambi: The Book of Bones – written by Senegalese writer Boris Boubacar Diop – one of the first fiction books based on the Rwandan genocide. Acogny decided to respond, as an African woman, and to take action by means of her own expression, her body and her gestural language, in order to make her voice heard regarding this genocide – Fagaala means “Genocide” in Wolof, a language spoken widely in Senegal. She invited Japanese choreographer Kota Yamazaki to join her in order to mix traditional and contemporary African dance with the unique tradition of Butoh. Created as a ballet – with singing, talking, shouting and dancing, often in a surreal framework – Fagaala simultaneously generates images of madness, beauty, poetry and hope. The piece premiered in 2004 in Tubaab Jallaw and since then has toured in Europe, United States, Australia, Japan and Africa.

*The talk will be held in English. Number of seats are limited, tickets required. Photo: François Stemmer

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