Review – Dance Afrique | Experimental Flow 2018

Review – Dance Afrique | Experimental Flow 2018

After taking the back seat from performing since 2014, due to an injury, I wanted to follow my dream again and do the two things I love most; dance and travel! Luckily, at the right time, I found an exciting opportunity to embark on the Dance Afrique Experimental Flow Workshop in Senegal. I want to share with you a self-reflection of my experimental experience in the motherland: Africa.

Ecole Des Sables

At the time I initially learnt about Experimental Flow I was unemployed and to be honest… miserable. So I thought why not do something spontaneous? Plus I was eager to be engaged in Afrocentric dance practices.

The workshop was organised by choreographer Alesandra Seutin, who leads Vocab Dance Company. Alesandra’s

w/ Alesandra Seutin

work and her stance as a female choreographer inspired me to navigate my way within African dance opportunities and to begin future research projects in this field. My first encounter with Alesandra was at Ecole Des Sables (School of Sands), where Experimental Flow was held. I am truly grateful for this lifelong opportunity, along with the wealth of knowledge I have gained during my time in Senegal.

My first impression of Ecole Des Sables was wow! It reminisced a dance camp. The school is located in Toubab Dialaw, Dakar. It was founded in 1998 by the Mother of Contemporary African Dance, Germaine Acogny.

My roomies! Left Daiane (Brazil). Right Lucia Afonso (Portugal)

“Its objectives are to professionalize African dancers, allow them to be able to live from their art, encourage communication and collaboration between dancers, choreographers and companies from Africa and with the rest of the world” – EcoleDesSables

What I valued within the group at Ecole Des Sables was sharing our experiences as dancers, what motivates and inspires us. Up to 50 dancers and practitioners came to the Experimental Flow from around the world. From Spain to USA, St Martinique and of course the local Senegalese dancers. Living and training together gave me an insight into the world of dance.

‘Na nga def?’ – How are you? ‘Ma ngi fi’ – I am fine. ‘Waaw waaw’ – Yes!! – Senegal language Wolof 

w/ Khadim

*New dance vocabulary: The Sabar*

I learnt new dance vocabulary in Senegal, such as the Sabar, originating from Wolof culture. The traditional Senegalese dance and drum. The Sabar, is best known for its circles where all the magic happens. I felt honoured to practice the roots, traditions and celebrate the Sabar. The Sabar displays such powerful yet elegant light foot work, where the dancer’s feet reach as high as my shoulders so effortlessly (in 40° heat). Meanwhile I am exhausted after one jump, with my feet barley leaving the ground…But hey it was helpful having the Senegalese dancers with us. They were mesmerising to watch.

“I like this rhythm because it so slow and difficult to dance. Impro u can dance with variation different tempo and connect between drummers and danseur” – Khadim Ndiayea (Rambal) Senegal Professional Dancer 

I admired learning more of African diaspora dance styles like Caribbean dances: Talawa technique with Thomas Preston. For instance, The Snake, which consists of 7 levels of dance isolation in the torso area. Real talk I applaud Thomas for teaching us the foundation and keeping it real within his workshops. Educating us on Reggae dancehall vs the commercialised dancehall we see flooding across our social media today. Anyone knows me well, knows how much I love authenticity, when it comes to dance, my work and with people..

Thomas Preston’s workshop: Yanvalou isolation with bottle (Caribbean dances)

In the moment. Henriette studio. Photo cred: Bizenga Photography

We would start our mornings off with a calm approach I found quite spiritual and some days emotional. We greeted one another with 50 hugs and connecting our toes in a circle. I miss those 50 hugs so deeply because for me, hugs is a great way to heal, feel a sense of warmth and safety. Each morning was a mystery; no two days were the same. I felt grateful & blessed one day and sleepy the next (after dancing 9am – 7pm every day).

“Dance Afrique was more than just a dance intensive. It was community, personal growth, and a time for reflection”Sophia Rabinovitz USA Artistic Director of Artivism Dance Theatre

The workshop included many professional teachers, delivering a wide range of dance styles, from Germain Acogny technique, waacking, house dance, traditional Sabar, Ivorian (ivory coast) dances and our mini choir, a masterclass with Patrick Acogny in modern African contemporary, Jazze, Reggae dancehall and the Talawa technique. Listen I wish I could touch up on every single workshop and technique but I talk tooo much.

‘mage mage gooo oooo yeeeaaaaa…’ (Random but I just had to drop a beat. I get goosebumps every time) – Saky Tchebe Bertrand – Ivory Coast

* Real Talk: Keeping Africa & the diaspora dances authentic*

Road tripppp!
Off to Dakar. Mage mage…

Every workshop was distinctly different and gave me a rich sense of knowledge and appreciation for the art form. Especially due to our 4 key topics that we discussed during the open floor sessions with Dr Funmi Adewole and Professor Ramsey Burt: Facilitators, UK De Monfort University Leicester that I found informative: Appropriation/Misappropriation, Dance in Africa and the ancestral significance for the Diaspora, Dance of the African diaspora as an inter-racial space, the politics of urban dance as a category.

The highlight of my trip was living in the heart of the village and meeting the locals along our group trips. Meeting the chief of Toubab Dialaw, our trip to Damel Toubab Dialaw for celebrations, our mysterious trip to Sicap Mbao to watch the lion performance ‘simb’, also our historical trip to Goree Island for the remembrance of the enslaved Africans and our last group trip to end the energising night away at electrafrique in Dakar.

“An experience that permeated cultural barriers, welcoming all backgrounds from all walks of life and binding us with the thread of humanity” – Sheila Attah UK HairTheBeat

It was the icing on the cake to end with a sharing to the community; a display of our artistic collaboration. And not to forget our big international cook up. 50 of us shared a taste of our world. We brought food and recipes from our culture. I found this fascinating and a unique experience to taste the world on one dish but of course to bring unity to the table. Overall I felt that the size of the group and back to back activities everyday was a little overwhelming. A day’s rest after a week to rejuvenate was needed, as I am a reserved person at times.

Now I am back from Senegal, I am working at Dance Exchange, based in Birmingham UK. I am thrilled to be assisting along our upcoming biggest festival, International Dance Festival Birmingham (IDFB), where I can continue to connect with more international artists but on my door step. Learn more about > IDFB

  • Drop a comment below and let me know your thoughts… What have you learnt from travelling?
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  • Take a peak at my snap shots of my time in Senegal on my Instagram story. Go to story > Senegal
End of our sharing!
Left: Nadine, Me,, Olivier, Sandrina, Tina

Stay blessed

Tay #tayscreativejourney

3 Replies to “Review – Dance Afrique | Experimental Flow 2018”

  1. Really inspiring to read about your experiences within your creative practice. But also in the Motherland and amongst many different cultural backgrounds.

    1. Ah my brother! Thank you for your kind words and thank you for sharing my blog. Glad you enjoyed it and hope this inspires you with your future creative ideas

      Stay blessed big lil bro xx

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