Parcours d'artistes

Afrique, danse contemporaine

“The idea is to express myself at length on contemporary dance, which I encountered and discovered on my path. A dance that I adopted and that shaped my worldview and my life, and also the life of many young designers of my generation in Africa. Just like a guide or a scout I share my experience with this young generation of dancers and choreographers and reach out to them.”

Salia Sanou had the book in him. He wanted it. The manuscript got to the publisher’s, almost completed, alive with intensity and intelligence. This book is about pride, setting the records straight and silencing quite a number of those debates more often than not disseminated by “experts” who never set foot in Africa. Or almost never! Talking about Africa as if that continent had escaped globalisation. Obviously someone from Africa was needed. Someone who would know about the backgrounds and references of all these artistic and experimental initiatives. Is it possible to imagine a book going beyond this one, our post-modernity in a nutshell, in constant motion between Africa, Europe and the American continent?
From studying to become a police captain to meeting French choreographer Mathilde Monnier, the author dashed forward without a safety net. In the mirror that Salia Sanou holds up to himself, all of Africa is reflected. Alive, exposing its woes, from civil wars to today’s famines (in the village of Leguema, about a hundred people benefited from the success of the local boy).

The choreographer presents us with a book that no longer dwells on obsolete debates. It is not described as exotic, nor as an essay on evolutions, ramifications between African and Black American dances. Even if these themes are addressed at some point, they are only ingredients in a larger recipe. In this book the past intertwines with the present and the near future, following a concept of time that offers new prospects and underlines the dialectical intelligence of artists in the process of creating, closely linked with the development of their country while facing the judgment of the Western countries that fund them. They adapt, understanding the world and all its differences, which many wealthier European companies could envy them. Enlightening.

Is it because movement is young? Nothing seems impossible to these artists. Salia Sanou bears witness to that energy. His unique journey from Leguema to the present day, is nevertheless tied to the multiple reality of dance as performed by choreographers of African descent. This journey written alternately as an autobiography and an analysis, delivers an eloquent style, full of imagery, humour, love, that of the storyteller, most likely inherited from his grandfather Baba Sourô. It tells of the fight of a poet/choreographer. Who builds a sentence by following the rhythm of the famous drum from his childhood, which he hears “beating behind each music, be it Bach or electro-funk.”
Dominique Frétard

Writings: Salia Sanou
Photographs: Antoine Tempé