Pulling up to Ecoles Des Sables in the dead of the night, i didn’t know what awaited me would truly embody everything i have ever loved about dance. I had my suspicions, but my experience at Ecoles DesSables was not one that could have been anticipated.
THE MARCH is the first international workshop on Germaine Acogny Technique and is ran by Lanla. In January i was privileged enough to be chosen for the July workshop, hosted at Ecoles Des Sables, the home of Acogny Technique in Senegal.
For the next 15 days we 50 dancers from across all 5 continents poured ourselves into the movement. Little was explained to us; instead we were encouraged to trust in our bodies – something which wasn’t always easy to do. Our classes were Ballet Acogny, Sabar, Contemporary, Acogny Technique, Traditional Dance from Togo, and Creation Classes with special sessions in-between. The programme was RICH, and challenging, the approach to movement and classes forced us to consider our presence in the space and in this life.
For example, the Baobab exercise. Where one person runs into the middle the space and stands strong like a Baobab tree, other dancers then run to that hug them (with force) and slide down their body, whilst the Boabab resists falling. The aim is to physically pull the negative energy off the person and leave it in the floor whilst we were sliding down. This kind of approach to movement addressed us as dancers in a holistic way that dealt with our soul and our body.
There were many exercises similar to the Boabab which approached movement holistically. Moving in this way and sweating profusely with each other resulted in a close community being formed very quickly. We learned to rely on each other and trust each other and strong connections were formed.
Not only did we have the wonderful opportunity of learning from 5 of out of the 17 performers/choreographers who have successfully completed their training in Germaine Acogny Technique. (These being Aida Colmenero Diaz and Ise Verstegen – who run Lanla Alesandra Seutin – who if you read my work you know i am obsessed with, Raouf Tchakondo and Rokhaya Thioune) But we also were able to connect with nature, our surroundings and the community, both through movement and experience.
This workshop was not about learning phrases, but capturing and embodying the very spirit of Acogny, it was about accepting where you were in that moment and moving through that reality. Acogny is a seamless technique that takes contemporary and classical western techniques and gives them the freedom, the grounding and the intangible nature of the African dance aesthetic. This creates a beautiful dialogue between the two aesthetics that is very intrinsic and accessible to any body.
I would highly recommend THE MARCH to anyone who is interested in exploring Acogny Technique and its essence. You can find more information about upcoming workshops in Senegal and Europe on the Lanla Website. Overall this experience is one that needs to be lived and moved through and cannot easily be captured in words.We were a part of something truly magic in every sense of the term. We became Marchers and we will continue to walk with Acogny in our heart and our Sun to the sky.
Featured Image Captured by Siaka Soppo Traoré