New York City based lighting designer, Carrie Wood, reflects on her experience in Nairobi with Opiyo Okach

New York City based lighting designer, Carrie Wood, pairs up with Opiyo Okach, the Ga’ara Arts Projects Performance Lab initiative for an intensive two-week creative exchange in Nairobi, Kenya to create a fresh lighting design for one of Okach and Ga’aara upcoming performance pieces. Read Carrie’s reflections on her experience below.

“From my first working day in Nairobi, I knew it was going to be unlike anything I have ever been a part of.

….after each exercise, there was a lot of discussion and feedback that I was invited to be a part of. As a lighting designer I am so used to being an observer of rehearsals and get to have lots of discussions with the choreographer but rarely do I get to site with the group and talk at length about what we just saw.”

Opiyo works so heavily in improvisation and while I have worked with choreographers that use this as a big element of their work, I have never been able to sit in on the process of this kind of work, so it was quite enlightening and made reflected on previous work I have been a part of in a very different way”

I felt and still feel so honored to have been asked to join Opiyo in Kenya. I think it’s really important to involve lighting designers in this way. Opiyo and I really got along, and I am certain we will do more in the future…. This experience is one that I will never forget, and I hope something like this will get to happen again. Everyone was warm, welcoming, and present in a way that I have tried to hold onto in my daily life back in NYC”

 

Photos from the artist exchange below:

IMG_3481 IMG_3148 IMG_3219 IMG_3431 IMG_3444

“Tales of Home” US Tour Wrap-up

We’re happy to report that the artists have arrived safely in their homes abroad, and the tour in America was a great success! We couldn’t have been more thrilled to have Faustin, Virginie, their two kids, Almasi and Loys (ages 8 and 10, respectively), and Panaibra and Jorge (FYI, pronounced like George, with a soft “g”) all in our midst.

We had a great set of shows at BRIC during their first week, thanks to a first-time partnership between BRIC and 651 ARTS (and MAPP, of course). It was very important to MAPP to be able to have these artists in our hometown for a few days; our gratitude goes out to both organizations for coming together, sharing resources, and making this possible.

While they were here, MAPP/The Africa Contemporary Arts Consortium hosted an Artist Exchange with Panaibra and Faustin. We invited local artists to meet them and participate in informal conversations around “Artist-Citizen,” its impact on society, and how home is manifested through one’s creative work. The group also delved deeply into identity, (a theme prevalent in both Faustin and Panaibra’s work) and around community, or how Faustin and Panaibra leverage the arts to build community and inspire those around them. We’ve since received great feedback from participants and their gratitude to us for creating a space for honest, thought-provoking conversation with a dynamic group of artists. A number of them also expressed that the conversation proved timely, as they constantly negotiate these very issues while producing and presenting their work.

Spectacular Wisdom & Kindred Spirits…

Their performances at The Flynn Center were very well-received. Steve MacQueen, Artistic Director at The Flynn couldn’t have said it better, really:

“It was an absolutely spectacular and special double-whammy of extraordinary artistry. I loved it as much as anything I’ve seen in a long time. Both pieces were profound and magical, so very different, yet so perfect together. Tim, Faustin, Panaibra and Jorge were all a complete treat to work with. Joy abounds.”

As part of their engagement at The Flynn, they taught master classes at the University of Vermont.  Here are Panaibra and Jorge with some of the dance students:

Panaibra_Jorge_Dance class_Flynn

One dancer/blogger there attended both shows and wrote up a really nice review.  I tend to agree with her when she says, “I am richer for the dance wisdom of Faustin and Panaibra.”

The next stop on the tour was Minneapolis, where The Walker Art Center kept them busy as artists-in-community. They did a site visit and friendly reception at artist-activist organization Juxtaposition Arts (an organization Faustin said was “kindred spirits” with his and Panaibra’s own); a discussion with University of MN dance students, and master classes with the local dance community.  The Walker even partnered with a local music venue to present a pop-up concert in the lobby by Dur-Dur Band from Somalia, right before Panaibra’s performance; it all made for a vibrant evening of performance from Africa.

Check out The Walker’s blog for the behind-the-scenes of some of those events.

Great pictures, great press!

Here are a couple of great new photos taken by David Andrako at the BRIC/651 ARTS shows here in New York:

2014_10_25_BRIC_03 (c) DAVID ANDRAKO2014_10_24_BRIC_04 (c) DAVID ANDRAKO

Takahiro Yamamoto's reflection on artistic exchange in Nairobi, Kenya with Opiyo Okaach

Portland-based dance-performing artist, Takahiro Yamamoto, reflects on a three week creative/artistic exchange in Nairobi, Kenya with Opiyo Okaach (Ga’ara Arts Project) and the GoDown Arts Centre:

“Opiyo
 and 
I 
often 
talked 
a 
lot.  
Often
times, 
we 
just
 forgot
 how
 late 
it 
was.  
We 
talked 
about
 each
 individual 
dancer, 
working 
philosophy,
 a 
concept
 that
 I
 threw
 out,
 Opiyo’s
 process
 of
 working,
 different
 ideologies
 between 
Kenya/Europe 
and 
the 
U.S., 
etc.  
We 
have 
this 
beautiful
 rapport 
and 
curiosity 
toward
 each
 other.  
We 
talked 
about 
this 
concept 
of 
‘invisibility
 on
 stage.’  
Is
 it
 possible 
to 
abandon 
focus 
and
 presence 
on 
stage 
while 
staying
 on 
stage?
  Can
 we 
manipulate 
the
 presence
 on 
stage 
by disappearing
 without 
physically 
disappearing?

One
 dancer
 asked 
if 
I 
would 
come 
back 
to 
Kenya 
because 
usually 
guest 
artists
 usually
 don’ t
really 
come 
back.  
Opiyo
 and 
I 
said 
ideally 
’Yes, we 
will
 really
 need 
to 
find
 funding 
for 
it,
 but 
our 
intention 
is 
to 
continue 
this
 conversation.
  This 
is 
just
 a
 beginning.’

It 
was 
very
 refreshing 
to 
witness 
Opiyo’s 
process, 
improvisation‐oriented
 process,
 of 
making 
his 
performance.
  He 
has
 a 
beautiful
 way
 to 
construct
 a 
framework
 for
 dancers 
to 
explore 
without
 being
 stale.  
I
 would 
be 
curious 
to 
immerse 
myself
 in to
 his 
process
 sometimes 
in 
the
 future.  
I
 would
 also
 maybe
 find
 an 
opportunity 
for 
him to 
choreograph 
a 
piece 
for 
me 
as 
a
 solo
 dancer.

I
 am 
determined
 that
 this
 residency
 needs 
to 
be
 only 
the 
beginning 
of 
our
 conversation.
  I
 am 
eager 
to
 continue 
this dialogue 
with
 Opiyo
 and 
his 
dancers 
in 
the 
near 
future.
”

Photos from Opiyo Okaach and Takahiro Yamamoto’s artist exchange

Applications accepted now for Germaine Acogny dance technique classes in Senegal

The Lanla Acogny Dance Technique/Germaine Acogny Company,  in partnership with Ecole des Sables, is excited to offer to weeks of workshops and classes teaching the esteemed Germaine Acogny Technique in Toubab Dialaw, Senegal (July 1-14, 2015).

During the 2 week program, instructors will direct and teach the different aspects and approaches to the noted dancer/choreographer Germaine Acogny. The 2015 cycle will build upon the successes of the first cycle (March 2014), which embraced 40 dancers from around the globe.

To apply: submit Motivation letter, 2 photos and an updated CV to lanlamove@gmail.com

Applications accepted through December 22nd 2014.

For more information, visit www.lanlamove.com

WELCOME To the Site of The Africa Contemporary Arts Consortium

We’re in the thick of preparing for lots of U.S. and Africa exchanges and performances.  This summer we have U.S. and African artists traveling to both continents for creative exchanges.  And in October we welcome Panaibra Gabriel and Faustin Linyekula to the U.S. on a shared program touring to five cities.

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Check out our new site – we like it and hope you do too — and continue the connections!