The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Above: Contempo Physical Dance company and guest choreographer Patrick Acogny (center) in rehearsal.
Jenny Pennaz is the managing director of Contempo Physical Dance.
Contempo Physical Dance, a Knight Arts Challenge winner based in St. Paul, Minn., has just kicked off its first international choreography residency. The company recently welcomed the arrival of guest choreographer Patrick Acogny, who is based in Senegal.
A teacher and dancer as well as a choreographer, Acogny is creating an original work during his residency, which the company will debut in late February at the city’s O’Shaughnessy auditorium. The company has been holding rehearsals of the work that are free and open to the public, as well as master dance classes led by Acogny.
Acogny was trained in Africa and Europe. Specializing in contemporary and traditional African dance techniques, he also has a solid training in Western contemporary dance techniques. For more than two decades, he danced in various dance companies in France before moving to the United Kingdom, where he directed the Afro-Caribbean dance company Kokuma Dance Theatre. Today, Acogny is a teacher of international reputation; he has taught at various dance schools worldwide and is regularly invited as a choreographer for dance companies across the globe.
Patrick Acogny is the son and close collaborator of Germaine Acogny, the famous dancer and choreographer who was the artistic director of Mudra Afrique in Dakar, Senegal–a company created by Maurice Béjart and the Senegalese president and poet Léopold Sédar Senghor. Germaine Acogny later founded the Ecole des Sables, where Patrick currently serves as artistic director and as one of the school’s principal teachers.
Acogny’s work with Contempo Physical Dance expands an already established aesthetic of the company–namely the fusion of contemporary dance and African dance forms. Contempo Physical Dance, led by Artistic Director Marciano Silva dos Santos, is known for its Afro-Brazilian contemporary dance fusion, which is based on Marciano’s body-based movement research. Through this international choreography residency, the company hopes to enters into an important dialogue on contemporary movement forms of the African diaspora.
Contempo Physical Dance will premiere Acogny’s new work on Feb. 26 and 27 at The O’Shaughnessy. Tickets are available here.