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Biennale Danza 2021

Germaine Acogny

Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement

Award ceremony

During the 15th International Festival of Contemporary Dance
23 July > 1 August 2021

Germaine Acogny

La Biennale di Venezia will present the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement to the Senegalese-French dancer and choreographer Germaine Acogny.

Germaine Acogny “is an artist of the highest quality and integrity – as the motivation for the award reads. Her contribution to the training of young people in performance and choreography alongside the wide dissemination of her work in her country and in the world has made her a major individual force in the development of our art form. Acogny believes in the power of dance to change lives and has been committed to sharing her passion as an act of transformation and regeneration”.

From 1977 to 1982, Germaine Acogny directed Mudra Afrique, a dance school founded by Maurice Béjart and by the President-poet of Senegal Léopold Sédar Sénghor, which would serve as a model for the entire continent. It was there that Acogny developed her own original technique and became a protagonist of contemporary African choreography.

From Maurice Béjart to Susanne Linke and Olivier Dubois, Acogny wove relationships and activated collaborations, stimulating new energy in the activity that radiates today from the École des Sables – both a school and a dance company (Jant-bi) – one of the major centres driving contemporary dance, which attracts dancers and choreographers from around Africa and the rest of the world. “Her influence as a creative and mentorship of countless young dance makers from Africa and beyond - writes Wayne McGregor - is a legacy we should highlight and celebrate as she continues to inspire and guide with her restless vision”.

Biographical notes

Senegalese and French, born on May 28th 1944, Germaine Acogny has evolved her own technique of Modern African Dance and is considered worldwide as the ‘mother of Contemporary African Dance’. From 1977 to 1982, she was the Artistic Director of Mudra Afrique, created by Maurice Béjart and the Senegalese President L.S. Senghor in Dakar. She dances, choreographs and teaches all over the world and has become a powerful ambassador of African Dance and Culture. In 1997, Germaine Acogny was appointed Artistic Director of the dance section of Afrique en Creation in Paris.

With her husband Helmut Vogt, she created the École des Sables, the International Centre for Traditional and Contemporary African Dances inaugurated in June 2004. Located in Toubab Dialaw / Senegal, the École des Sables is a place for training and exchange for African dancers and dancers from all over the world, an important meeting and education place for Contemporary African Dance and choreography.

Germaine Acogny has choreographed many pieces, for her Company JANT-BI, which tours successfully around the world, and she creates and performs her own solos. Her last creation, the solo A un endroit du début had its premiere at the Grand Théâtre du Luxembourg in June 2015.

Germaine Acogny is ‘Chevalier de l’Ordre du Merite’, ‘Officier and Commandeur de l’ordre des Arts et Lettres’, ‘Chevalier et Officier de l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur’ of the French Republic. She is also ‘Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Lion’ and ‘Officier et Commandeur des Arts et Lettres’’ of the Republic of Senegal. In 1999, Germaine Acogny was decorated as "PioneerWoman" by the Senegalese Ministry of the Family and the National Solidarity. In 2007, she received, jointly with the Japanese Kota Yamazaki, a Bessie Award in New York for their choreography Fagaala. In 2018 – Germaine Acogny received a New York Bessie Award for outstanding performance in the solo Mon élue noire-sacre # 2 and an Award for Lifetime achievement in the field of choreography, movement and dance from the Cairo International Festival for Experimental and Contemporary Theatre.

In January 2019, Germaine Acogny received the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) Excellence Award, in the category Arts and Letters.

Germaine Acogny danced and choreographed for the corps de ballet of XFactor the opening to the fourth Live Show in 2018. Why We Dance, broadcast on Sky Arte in 2019, dedicated one of its five episodes to her.

Biennale Danza
Biennale Danza