photo credit: Javier Sánchez Salcedo Teatros Canal Madrid organized by Aïda Colmenero Dïaz
Senegalese and French, she founded her first dance studio in Dakar in 1968. Thanks to the influence of the dances she had inherited from her grandmother, a Yoruba priest, and to her studies of traditional African dances and Occidental dances (classic, modern) in Paris and New York.
Between 1977 and 1982 she was artistic director of Mudra Afrique (Dakar), created by Maurice Béjart and the senegalese president and poet Leopold Sedar Senghor. In 1980, she wrote her first book untitled “African Dance”, edited in three languages.
Once Mudra Afrique had closed, she moved to Brussels to work with Maurice Béjart’s company, she organised international African dance workshops, which showed a great success among the European audience. This same experience was repeated in Africa, in Fanghoumé, a small village in Casamance, the south of Senegal. People from Europe and from all over the world travelled to this place.
Germaine Acogny dances, choreographs and teaches on all continents, becoming a real emissary of the African Dance and Culture. Her work and personality is highly respected in Africa and worldwide.
Together with her husband, Helmut Vogt, she sets up in 1985, in Toulouse, France, the “Studio-Ecole-Ballet-Théâtre du 3è Monde”.
In 1995, she decides to go back to Senegal with the aim of creating an International Center for Traditional and Contemporary African Dances. In 1997, Germaine Acogny becomes Artistic Director of the « Dance section of Afrique en Creations » in Paris, a function she held until September 2000.
In 2004 Germaine Acogny established the ECOLE DES SABLES, International Center for Traditional and Contemporary African Dances in Senegal, which is a place for professional education, a forum of exchange and a meeting place for dancers from Africa and across the world. Every year since 1998, three-month professional workshops for African dancers and choreographers are organised. About 30 dancers from all over Africa meet, exchange and work together each time.
In 2005 she was invited as regent at UCLA (University of Los Angeles).
Her solo “Tchouraï”, created in 2001, was successfully touring until 2008. She has presented it in France (Theatre de la Ville, Paris), Germany, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Italy, the US (New York, Chicago) and in China (first Contemporary Dance Festival in Shanghai).
In 2003/2004, she created the piece “Fagaala”, for her company JANT-BI, based on the genocide in Rwanda. It is co-choreographed with Kota Yamazaki/Japan for 7 African dancers, a fusion between Butoh and traditional and contemporary African Dances. It had already three very successful tours in the US, and was performed in Europe, Australia (Melbourne Festival, Sydney Opera House) and in Japan.
In 2007, she and Kota Yamazaki receive a BESSIE Award (New York Dance and Performance Award) for “Fagaala”.
Later that year, the great challenge was the choreographic part of the OPERA du SAHEL, an important African creation, initiated and produced by the Prince Claus Fund in Holland. It premiered in Bamako in February 2007 followed by performances in Amsterdam and Paris and a first African Tour in 2009.
In 2008, another choreographic work was organised as a collaboration between Jant-Bi company (7 male dancers) and Urban Bush Women company (7 Afro-American female dancers) from New York. This new creation “Les écailles de la mémoire – Scales of memory” was created by her and Jawole Zollar, the artistic director of Urban Bush Women and had a great success during several touring in USA and in Europe.
Her last creation, the solo « Songook Yaakaar » had its Premiere at the Biennale de la danse in Lyon in September 2010.
•In 1999, Germaine Acogny is decorated as "Pioneer Woman" by the Senegalese Ministry of the Family and the National Solidarity.
•Germaine Acogny is owner of the « Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite », and « Officier des Arts et des Lettres » and « Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur » of the French Republic.
•She is also owner of the « Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Lion » and « Officier des Arts et des Lettres » of the Senegalese Republic.
•The African Magazine “Jeune Afrique” chose Germaine as part of the 100 personalties who “make” Africa.
•Germaine Acogny was given in 2004 a special recognition in form of a grant by the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Art, New York.
•In 2009, she receives the « Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres » distinction from the French Republic.
•In 2012, she receives the « Commandeur des Arts et Lettres » distinction from the Senegalese Republic.