For over five decades Senegalese dancer Germaine Acogny has contributed to the development of African dance, and she has been called the Mother of Contemporary African Dance. In 1992, Acogny was invited by
Gus Giordano to teach and perform at Jazz Dance World Congress in Chicago. American jazz dance finds its roots and origins in West African dance. This month we celebrate those roots as nurtured and reimagined by groundbreaker
Photo by François Guddier
"Now, at 74 years old, Acogny holds no nostalgia for her younger body. Each morning, she nurtures her limbs with stretches, walks, power marches and meditation before heading to the studio for rehearsal. In fact she is more content with her current practice, which bears the evolution of over 40 years of storytelling, and is more forward-looking than ever. 'When I was younger, I danced with energy and power. It used to be a more exterior power and energy, now it becomes something that comes from inside, and people feel it,' she muses. 'Sometimes even a small movement can be more impactful because of the intention behind it, more so than the expressive outside movements. The older I get, the more I am better.'”
"The artistic movement in which I inscribe my own work, while rooted in our popular traditions, is not a return to our roots. On the contrary, it is a very different path, resolutely urban and modern, reflecting the context in which Africa lives today, the Africa of buildings, the Africa of great international contradictions. We don't want to subjugate, to infer black dance. We only want it to impose itself by its own character in modern civilization and to take its rightful place. It will then fully play its role of animation and reaction."
Germaine Acogny teaching at Jazz Dance World Congress in Chicago, 1992.
“Germaine Acogny, originally from Senegal and now living in Germany. Accompanied only by a single, but very adroit, percussionist (Arona Ndiaye), this soloist illuminates the delicate and spiritual heart of African Dance”