5 January 2022
Senegalese French dancer, teacher and choreographer Germaine Acogny is known as the ‘mother of contemporary African dance’. She studied at the École Simon Siegel in Paris and established her first dance studio in Dakar in 1968. There, she developed her own technique for Modern African dance, combining the influence of dances she had inherited from her grandmother, a Yoruba priestess, with her knowledge of traditional African and occidental dance.
Between 1977 and 1982, Acogny was the artistic director of Mudra Afrique (Dakar), before moving to Toulouse in 1985, where she and her husband, Helmut Vogt, founded the ‘Studio-École-Ballet-Théâtre du 3èMonde’. In 1995, she returned to Senegal and established an international education centre for traditional and contemporary African dances, l’École des Sables.
In 1998, she started her own dance company, Jant-Bi, whose productions include Les écailles de la mémoire – Scales of memory (2008), a collaboration with Urban Bush Women, and notably, Fagaala, based on the genocide in Rwanda and winner of a Bessie Award (2007). Acogny’s other prominent works and credits include Sahel (1987), YE’OU (1988 – winner of the London Contemporary Dance and Performance Award 1991), Tchouraï (2001), Bintou Were – a Sahel Opera (2007), Songook Yaakaar (2010), Mon élue noire – Sacre no.2, choreography Olivier Dubois, (2014, based on the original music of The Rite of Spring, winner of a Bessie Award 2018) and A un endroit du début (2015).
Acogny is a respected emissary of African Dance and Culture and continues to collaborate with schools, dance centres and teach masterclasses worldwide.