In the world of African contemporary dance, Germaine Acogny is The Mother. Period! Born in 1944 in Benin, the Senegalese dancer and choreographer is internationally acclaimed for originating the Germaine Acogny technique which is taught at L’Ecole Des Sables, the international center for traditional and contemporary African dances in Toubab Dialaw, Senegal. Founded in 1998 by Acogny and husband Helmut Vogt, Germaine remains among the staff of teachers.
About an hour's drive outside of Dakar, L’Ecole Des Sables, which translates to Sand School, is a mostly outdoor array of training spaces both in the sand and in studios, all of which have open exposure to the natural environment. Having founded her first dance studio in 1968 in Dakar, Acogny credits the influence of the dances she inherited from her Yoruba priestess grandmother that led to her studies in traditional African dance. Acogny would also study classic and modern dance in Paris and New York.
At 80 years old, The Mother of African Dance has not languished. Au contraire!!!
In 1913, Igor Stravinsky premiered the ballet and concert work, Le Sacre du Printemps, (The Rite of Spring). While not the original choreographer, Pina Bausch is most associated with this particular ballet. Germaine has stated that the ballet always “felt African” to her, and she is now bringing her African-ness to the piece.
In a truly rare series of presentations, Germaine Acogny has partnered with the Pina Bausch Foundation for a very special tour of The Rite of Spring. Already performed in New York, the tour stops in Charleston, North Carolina on February 3rd, in Los Angeles from February 9th to 11th, and in Berkeley from February 16th to 18th, before heading to Switzerland and The Netherlands.
If you have never experienced the artistry of The Mother of African Contemporary Dance, we urge you to check out one of the North American performances. More info on Germaine and the tour here in the November 25th issue of The New York Times.