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La danseuse d'ébène

Seydou Boro, for a while an interpreter for Mathilde Monnier, is also a choreographer and a director. He dedicates here a documentary to one of the figures of African creative dance, Irène Tassembédo, like himself from Burkina Faso, where the entire film was shot. This portrait, where Germaine Acogny also appears, helps restore an entire part of the history of dance, around the ties and tensions between two continents and two cultures.

Irène Tassembédo has been living in France for twenty years. In 1978 in Burkina, she was selected to follow the classes at the Mudra-Afrique school that Maurice Béjart set up in Dakar and that Germaine Acogny would direct. A meeting with Irène Tassembédo, leads to a vital subject: the issue of the body, its values and its imaginary world, as well as the special meaning it assumes for African dancers confronted with learning Western contemporary dance. By accompanying her career with numerous interviews, work sessions and journeys, this film evokes an approach based on genuine convictions: Irène Tassembédo believes that African dance must take its place in a changing world, without denying its own gestural technique and without its being frozen in a traditional scheme often synonymous of folklore. Her experience covers two generations of artists and their questioning of contemporary creation and cultural mixing.

Source : Irène Filiberti

Boro, Seydou

Born in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Seydou Boro followed in 1990 a training of actor in the theater company Feeren, directed by Amadou Bourou. In 1991 he was a theater performer, in "Marafootage", by Amadou Bourou and then in "Oedipus Roi" by Sophocles by Eric Podor. In 1993, he joined the company Mathilde Monnier at the CCN Montpellier. In 1992, Seydou Boro met Salia Sanou and together founded Salia nï Seydou in 1995, with their first work created in 1996, "The Century of Fools", halfway between African tradition and gestural modernity.

After 15 years of artistic adventures with Salia Sanou in the company Salia ni Seydou, Seydou Boro created his own company in 2010. He seeks to develop his choreographic research while expanding a more transversal approach through film and music creations. He created “Le Tango du Cheval" in 2010 and the same year released his first album: "Kanou", then adapted a traditional tale for children in 2013: “Pourquoi la hyène a les pattes inférieures plus courtes que celles de devant, et le singe les fesses pelées?" [Why do hyenas have shorter back legs than front legs and why do monkeys have bare bottoms?], and is preparing a film with Leslie Gremberg/Les Films Pénélope: "Corpus". He is also still touring with the pieces "C'est-à-dire" (2004) and "Concert d’un homme décousu" (2009) and is regularly invited to teach and present his repertoire in classes and master classes.    

His artistic work is inspired by ties woven over the years with the CDC la Termitière in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) of which he is co-director, and also other projects in France and abroad that provide space for research and experimentation. He has also worked with the Récréatrales in Ouagadougou, the Tof Theatre (puppets, Brussels), Mark Tompkins (company I.D.A) and is envisaging, with Bakary Sangaré from the Comédie Française, an adaptation of a text he wrote in 2002: “L’Exil dans l’Asile".     
In 2014, with “Surukou”, the company Seydou Boro recreated, with 4 musicians live on stage, the choreographic tale created in 2013 and released in 2015 “Le Cri de la Chair", for 6 dancers and 5 musicians.

Sources: Cie Seydou Boro 's website ; CRDP Limousin - show program ("Le cri de la chair", 2016)

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Tassembédo, Irène

Irène Tassembédo is a choreographer from Burkina Faso who lived in France for several years where she carried out quite unique artistic research by reinterpreting contemporary choreography by drawing on the land-based sources of African dance. In 1988, she formed Compagnie Ebène, then ten years after establishing the company, she created the Burkina Ballet in Ouagadougou. 

Irène Tassembedo intended to: bring together contemporary and African choreography in order to breathe modernity into African dance whilst continuing to preserve its roots and traditions. Her entire work, which illustrates her approach to African dance, was honoured by a SACD award in 2000. 

Also an actress, Irène Tassembedo has worked regularly hand-in-hand with the German director Matthias Langhoff. Alongside her latest creations, the choreographer runs a wide range of dance courses and master classes. She returned to settle in Burkina Faso in 2007 where she created new choreographic works and opened an international dance school “Les Tamariniers” offering contemporary Afro dance mentoring, in October 2009.

As part of her work promoting African choreographic heritage, she created the Ouagadougou International Dance Festival (OIDF) in January 2013; a dance festival which aims to promote and develop the different forms of dance present on the African continent and African diasporas throughout the world. The 1st edition of the festival brought together some twenty-seven dance companies from around the world and almost 3,000 spectators over eight days. The OIDF has also become a centre for professional encounters and for artistic expression and promotion. In 2016, she also coordinated the Triennial Danse l’Afrique danse !, an event organized by the Institut Français.

Source : Africultures

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Acogny, Germaine

Senegalese and French, she participated from 1962 till 1965 at the formation at the Simon Siegel’s school (the director was Ms Marguerite Lamotte) in Paris and received a diploma of physical education and harmonious gymnastics. Then, she founded her first dance studio in Dakar, 1968. Thanks to the influence of the dances she had inherited from her grandmother, a Yoruba priest, and to her studies of traditional African dances and Occidental dances (classic, modern) in Paris and New York, Germaine Acogny created her own technique of Modern African Dance and is considered as the “mother of Contemporary African dance”.

Between 1977 and 1982 she was artistic director of MUDRA AFRIQUE (Dakar), created by Maurice Béjart and the Senegalese president and poet Leopold Sedar Senghor. Once Mudra Afrique had closed, she moved to Brussels to work with Maurice Béjart’s company, she organised international African dance workshops, which showed a great success among the European students.  Together with her husband, Helmut Vogt, she sets up in 1985, in Toulouse, France, the “Studio-Ecole-Ballet-Théâtre du 3è Monde”.

After having been away from the stage for several years, Germaine Acogny has her come back as a dancer and choreographer in 1987. She works with Peter Gabriel for a video clip and creates her solo “Sahel”.  In 1995, she decides to go back to Senegal, with the aim of creating an International Centre for Traditional and Contemporary African Dances achieved in 2004 - L’Ecole des Sables - a meeting point for dancers coming from Africa and from all over the world, a place of professional education for dancers from the whole of Africa with the aim to guide them towards a Contemporary African Dance. In 1997, Germaine Acogny becomes Artistic Director of the « Dance section of Afrique en Creations » in Paris, a function she held until September 2000. 

Her solo “Tchouraï”, created in 2001 choreographied by Sophiatou Kossoko, was successfully touring until 2008. In 2003/2004, she created the piece “Fagaala”, for her company JANT-BI, based on the genocide in Rwanda. Since January 2015 she submitted the Artistic Direction of the Ecole des Sables to her son Patrick Acogny.

Source : Ecole des sables 's website

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