I think that this school is vital to the training of dancers in Africa. With its international dimension it allows to weave networks; it privileges the Pan-African dimension which seems to me essential for creation. It values African dancers and choreographers and artists from the Diaspora by offering them a space and a beautiful welcome. I am proud to have followed educational trainings at the l’Ecole des Sables.
My experience at the l’Ecole des Sables has been determining and positive, at several levels, in the evolution of my professional career; here is my story.
During summer, 2009, I participated in the international training course which met a lot of my expectations. At that time, I wished to review my commitment in the dance: do I go further in dancing full-time or only in leisure? After the training course, I was completely satisfied and my doubts had been swept.
First of all, I was stunned by the beauty of the place and by the quality of the welcome offered to the dancers. The place is noble and adds value to the work of African dancers and that touches me a lot. The direction and the administrative teams are welcoming and available for the trainees which creates a reliable climate and a real motivation.
Then, the quality of the proposed teaching and the commitment of the pedagogical staff allowed me to improve technically and to weave links with renowned professors such as Nora Chipaumire (Zimbabwe/USA) and Benjamin Lamarche (France). As regard to the trainees, I sometimes regretted the heterogeneousness of the level and the commitment of some who slowed down the group.
However, the meeting with the other trainees was especially enriching; I discovered the dances of various countries and met the dancers (African dancers and one Frenchwoman) with whom I created the performance "Free". Thanks to the support of Germaine Acogny and Helmut Vogt, the first stage (one month) of creation residence, was able to take place at the Ecole des Sables in March, 2010.
Meanwhile, we presented the work in progress to the French Institute of Dakar who was interested in programming the finished piece.
Thanks to the meetings made at the school, Cie Mangwa was invited for two weeks in March, 2011 to the CCN of Nantes by co-director Benjamin Lamarche.
My stay at the Ecole des sables, enabled me to move forward in my choreographic creation which was impossible to realize before because I did not meet the interpreters who suited and I had no support.
At the same time, my meeting with the choreographer Nora Chipaumire was determining in my professional choices. Her artistic quality, our discussions about pedagogy or about art in Africa and her support in my choreographic approach galvanized me and helped to export my educational and choreographic work in New York. I thus went twice to New York, in November, 2009 and 2010, where Nora introduced me to the dance community.
Finally my first training course at the Ecole des Sables and its ethics, brought back hope and broke my professional isolation. So, I was able to boost my creation which was stuck.
This training course completed my knowledge and pushed up my creation.
The complementarity of 2 teachers, Gabriel Smith and Patrick Acogny, improved the quality of the educational proposal. During the two weeks, they gave me the means to re-question positively my choreographic approach. However, I would have appreciated to have one more week to work on some points.
Besides, I appreciated the restricted number of trainees (from Africa and from the Diaspora) and almost as many women as men, especially since the level was rather homogeneous. The encounter with the women encouraged educational and artistic collaborations in England, France and Ivory Coast.
Finally, before coming to the school, I had stopped for several years, my anthropological researches on "African choreographic creation" because I had doubts about it. However, since summer, 2009 meeting Germaine Acogny and Nora Chipaumire had restored my hope and this year the training course "Choreographic Tools" came to strengthen the reflection which I started again since summer, 2010 for my thesis in anthropology on "African choreographic creation ".