Dancer Germaine Acogny takes her time in Sophiatou Kossoko’s hour-long solo Tchourai, the piece she’s performing to open the AfroContempo Festival. But the movement isn’t slow in the way that Eiko & Koma’s butoh-influenced works are. Instead of moving glacially, almost imperceptibly, Acogny often just sits, perhaps smoking a pipe, or lies curled, then explodes into laughter, speech (text by Martinican poet Xavier Orville), or frenzied motion, swinging her arms or running back and forth in hairpin turns. Called the founding mother of Senegalese contemporary dance and known for her openness to non-African influences, Acogny is the artistic director of Compagnie Jant-Bi, which performed her collaboration with Japanese choreographer Kota Yamazaki, Fagaala, here last spring. Kossoko–a Nigerian native who’s lived in Paris since 1984, after fleeing Benin with her parents as political refugees–often addresses the question of the “homeless self.” Significantly, tchourai is an incense that women burn to purify their homes and keep their husbands, and the dance does communicate the stillness of a woman in contemplation, turning something over in her mind in a sudden burst, then coming to rest again. Acogny is a deeply centered presence onstage, old enough and practiced enough to move slowly or not at all yet keep our attention. Fri-Sat 2/25-2/26, 8 PM, Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan, 312-344-8300, $24. Note: Compagnie Jant-Bi administrative director Helmut Vogt gives a talk at 7 PM Friday; free for ticket holders. And Acogny gives a talk after the Saturday performance.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Thomas Dorn.