Danser ensemble dans le même bateau avec de l’eau et du vent – Dancing together in the same boat with the water and the wind
A Go Digital collaboration project supported by the British Council (Wales), co-created in partnership by The Successors of the Mandingue (Wales) and CIE Fatou Cisse (Senegal).
“Danser ensemble…” is the representation of a series of online encounters between Wales and Senegal based contemporary dance artists exploring their dislocated connections by finding and creating shared vocabularies.
The project involved seven four-hour online workshop sessions with seven participating dance artists (four based in Wales and three in Senegal) during September and October 2021. The first day was focussed on sharing and discussing each other’s dance styles and backgrounds and engaging in some improvisation using a track N’famady Kouyaté composed as a starting point to begin experimenting and collaborating together. The second day was devoted to experimenting with dancing together in pairs using breakout rooms within Zoom. The third day built on this work and joined dancers together in trios, and finally all together on screen. Day four saw a structure for filming and choreography discussed and agreed, and day five focussed on rehearsals of the different elements to be filmed. The final two sessions focussed on filming the footage for the final film in two different locations in the two different countries with local film makers Tim Tyson Short and Mor Ndoye Ndiaye. The first locations were our rehearsal spaces The Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff and Le Grand Théâtre de Dakar in Senegal.
Good relationships and connections were created between the dancers by utilising a ‘call and response’ through movement exercise, where language/talk was not required. Each dancer in Senegal had the opportunity to dance with each dancer in Wales (and vice versa), to learn about, and share each other’s dance vocabularies. We found the more people added to the mix, the more dislocated the work became. Emerging themes were identified and discussed, and a list of words to encapsulate these were co-created and shared using WhatsApp:
- Echo, Interweave, Tension
- Water, Intimacy, Determination
- Perspective, Texture, Pattern
- Spirited, Connected, Dislocated, Negotiated
- Disorder, Transit, Crossing
- Atmosphere, Crowd, Friendly
- Limit, Pressure, Seperation
- Emotions, Sensations
- Flow, Proximity
The experience of the first week informed N’famady Kouyaté’s final composition for the film piece. It was composed with three distinct sections in mind, building on, and informed by, the workshops and the dancers’ discussions. Duets were put front and centre of the work as the most interesting and successful collaboration pieces. The structure of the filmed piece utilised the different themes from the list devised to give the intention for each section, and different devices were selected to explore the encounters between the two countries and two groups of dancers. The theme explored by the opening solos is dislocation & distance, the duets play with exploration & discovery, and the final section explores transit & negotiation.
The collaboration was a Go Digital project and would not have been possible without online tools. Travel was still limited by Covid-19 related restrictions and would have been beyond the budgets of most of the artists and companies involved. Sharing online and via social media platforms widened our reach and audience beyond our geographical locations and to each other’s audiences. The project utilised the following to good effect:
- Zoom for online workshops
- WhatsApp for general communication
- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and a new AM channel for public sharing
- Doodlepoll for arranging dates
- Youtube for the private sharing of session recordings
- Quicktime for rough and ready screen recording for immediate sharing within sessions
We learned a lot about the different capabilities of Zoom and found strategies to overcome issues where access is limited (i.e. using mobile phones rather than laptops). We shared music files via WhatsApp and the Chat function on Zoom, and used Quicktime screen recording to make quick recordings of the dancers that can be played back to them using the ‘share screen’ function of Zoom so that they could see how their movements looked in a 2D screen setting. We also made extensive use of breakout rooms, and shared responsibilities for playing the music files between those with the right settings to ensure all had access. We recorded all the Zoom sessions and then shared them via a private YouTube link for review and to use as an aide memoire in choreographing. We learned to use available platforms more effectively and used elements of functionality that were new to us – sharing and discovering as we went along.
The final film was exhibited at the Wales Millennium Centre’s Festival of Voice in November 2021 and later published online via Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and our new AM channel. We also promoted each individual dance artist by publishing individual introductory posts including videos of their solo improvisations with their biographies (see below).
PROJECT DANCE ARTISTS – SENEGAL
Alexandre Garcia – Choreographer and Dance Artist. A dancer-performer born March 23, 1994 in Dakar, Alexandre Garcia made his debut in urban dance by establishing with childhood friends the New Style Crew collective, a local hip-hop group based in the Yeumbeul Comico district in Senegal. . A few years later, he decided to deepen his knowledge and become professional. He studied the traditional dances of West Africa, then other dance techniques: modern, classical, jazz and contemporary, rubbing shoulders with choreographers and participating in internships and professional training. In 2016, with his childhood friends, he joined the National School of Arts, and in 2017 he obtained a diploma in « Enseignement, Pédagogie, Transmission, Histoire de la danse et Technique des différentes danses urbaines » (Teaching, Pedagogy, Transmission, History of dance, and Urban dance techniques) and a performance to end his training in urban dances organized by the Sunu Street collective at the Regional Cultural Center of Dakar Blaise Senghor. Between 2016 and 2018, he participated in events such as the Biennale of Contemporary African Art in Dakar, the Hip-hop Game Concept (founded by choreographer Romuald Brizolier and his company Art-Track) and Afrique à un Incroyable Talent (Ivory Coast). The New Style group evolves and explores the worlds of contemporary and traditional African dances. He participated in the 10th edition of the Kaay Fecc festival in 2019 with the play Bats-toi là which was also performed at the French Institute in Dakar in October of the same year. In 2020, Alexandre Garcia joined the Cinquième Dimension company and worked with choreographer Jean Tamba and his piece Bujouman as part of the Massa art biennial. He was then selected as a choreographer to participate in the Made in Ici project, directed by Abderzak Houmi and carried by the Scène Nationale de Essonne Agora-Desnos. In 2021 he joined the Fatou Cisse company for the piece Performance D.
Antoine Danfa – Dancer / Performer. Antoine began his training in traditional dance in 2008 in the Cie Bakalama, followed by an internship at the L’école des Sables of Germaine Acogny with the choreographer Jules Romain in 2009. He attended the National Arts School (ENA) in Dakar / Senegal, graduating with honours in 2014, after four years of professional training in dance, classical, modern and African jazz. He continued to train with Italian choreographer Lorenzetti in classical and ballroom dance, then with the group “Chicago Heritage Workshops”. In parallel with these years of training, he became a dancer in the company Bakalama and traveled to for a performance at the international horticultural exhibition in China, then at the “Nomad Universe” festival in Saudi Arabia. He also participated in the African film festival of Khouribga with the traditional company Bakalama in Morocco. Antoine Danfa collaborates with several contemporary dance companies in Dakar, such as the choreographer Jean Tamba of Cie 5eme Dimension and danced the piece “Boujouman” at the MASA African Arts Market 2020, in Côte d’Ivoire , and will perform in the creation “Performance D” by Cie Fatou Cisse which will be performed at the Choreographic Development Center “L’hangeur” in France. Antoine Danfa undertakes workshops with Andreya Ouamba, as well as at the L’école des Sables of Germaine Acogny, and will dance the Boléro with Cie Maurice Bejart passing through Dakar, for a collaboration with dancers from Senegal and the Grand Théâtre de Dakar. In collaboration with a few artists, they will create their structures and participate in several events leading them to travel to several countries. He is also preparing his next solo piece titled ’Rebondi’.
Born in Dakar, Fatou Cissé began her career at the training center, Manhattan-Dance-School, in Dakar directed by her father Ousmane Noël Clissé, where she trained in modern Afro Jazz and at the ballet Guineen Bougarabou training in traditional dance. She has participated in several master classes with different choreographers from the continent. In 2000, she was involved in the creation of the Compagnie 1er Temps of which she was a permanent performer and assistant to the choreographer Andreya Ouamba. She created her first solo Xalaat (thought) in 2003 and obtained a scholarship to attend various improvisation and composition workshops at the Charleroi Choreographic Center in Brussels, and at the National Dance Center in Paris. She has travelled all over the world for meetings, workshops, and shows. As a result of these experiences, she set up her company in 2011, and decided to work and question the space of women, especially in Senegal. She has also choreographed and and co-written several projects, choreographic and performative. She installs the concept “Les arts dans la rue” in Ouakam en Mouv’ment in 2019, an urban installation and performance. Then in 2020, the second edition “The city in movement” Ouakam / Grand Dakar / Medina Fass.
PROJECT DANCE ARTISTS – WALES
Shakeera Ahmun is a freelance dance artist and teacher based in Cardiff, Wales. She is inspired by music and the nuances of melody and rhythm, that drives her physicality and continuously sculpts her movement language. She has also recently experienced working with physical theatre, which has deeply informed her artistic practice. Shakeera began her dance training at the Rubicon Dance Centre in Cardiff, It was here that she really ignited a passion and drive for a more technical and physical approach to contemporary dance. She then studied at the London Contemporary Dance School where she performed in works by Sasha Waltz, Richard Alston and Tony Adigun. During her 3rd year with LCDS, she trained at the California Institute of the Arts as an exchange student, where she collaborated with many different artists ranging from dance, music and film. Since graduating, Shakeera has collaborated with many independent dance and multi-disciplinary artists in Cardiff, Wales. In 2019, She also received funding from the Arts Council of Wales, which supported her R&D ‘Community and Bond’. Amongst others, she has collaborated with Tina Pasotra, Love Ssega, June Campbell Davies, Florita Maugran, Charlotte Perkins Dance, Gundija Zandersona and Matteo Marfoglia.
Dominika Rau is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Wales, originally from Poland. Her work includes mime, dance and movement practices, but also spoken word and experimental theatre approaches. She is a founder of Body Art Therapies, an original project that supports vulnerable service users through body and art tools and practices.
Krystal S. Lowe is a Bermuda-born, Wales-based dancer, choreographer, writer, and director creating dance theatre works for stage, public space, and film that explore themes of intersectional identity, mental health and wellbeing, and empowerment in a way that challenges herself and audiences toward introspection and social change. She has an extensive career performing and touring with Ballet Cymru throughout the United Kingdom, China and Bermuda; with Citrus Arts circus company, Ransack Dance, Theatr Iolo, The Successors of the Mandingue, and Laku Neg. Her recent credits include: ‘Whimsy’ commissioned by Articulture Wales in collaboration with the Riverfront Theatre with support from Arts Council Wales, Welsh Government and the National Lottery; ‘Rewild’ commissioned by Green Man Trust, presented at Green Man Festival 2020 and The Place’s How Can We Care for Each Other’ festival; ‘Daughters of the Sea’ commissioned by Ffilm Cymru, BBC Arts, BBC Cymru, and Arts Council Wales; ‘Good Things to Come’ commissioned by National Dance Company Wales and Literature Wales for the Welsh Government’s Wales in Germany 2021; ‘Somehow’, a Music Theatre Wales Digital Commission 2021; and ‘Complexity of Skin’ commissioned by the Space for BBC’s Culture in Quarantine.
Matthew Gough is a dance artist, and dramaturg, based in Cardiff. Their practice spans; improvisation, contemporary dance, screen dance, physical theatre, art in public spaces, and theatre for young audiences. Recent credits include: Green Man festival 2020 / The Place Spring Festival 2021 (Rewild: Dramaturgy), Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru (Hwn yw fy Mrawd: Creative & Performer), Frân Wen (Llyfr Glas Nebo: Choreographer), and Theatr Iolo (Chwarae: Co-Creative & Performer). Matthew is a Senior Lecturer, and course leader at the University of South Wales.