DER Documentary

African Dance: Sand, Drum, and Shostakovich

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by Ken Glazebrook and Alla Kovgan
color, 70 min, 2002
English and French with English subtitles

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This documentary explores African contemporary dance through eight modern dance companies from Africa, Europe and Canada that participated in the Festival International de Nouvelle Danse in Montreal, Canada in 1999. Interviews, including those with dance historians Yacouba Konate and Alponse Tierou, add insight to beautifully-photographed performances.

What emerges is a fascinating diversity of contemporary African dance themes and styles. Exploring the interactions between tradition and modernism, the consequences of colonization and urbanization, the self-expression of women through dance, and the roles of masculinity and family relationships, the film is a unique source of information and inspiration for dancers, dance historians, choreographers, critics, as well as those interested in African culture, past and present.

"More than ever, as a forum for cross-cultural exchanges, this ninth edition of the Festival showcases African dance because it appears to be undergoing a cultural and artistic renaissance nurtured by the contact and clash between tradition and modernity, and by a reevaluation of its global links. The young choreographers visiting us from Abidjan, a dance capital in Central Africa, from Ouagadougou and Johannesburg, are creating their own special vocabularies, with echoes from ancestral lands and sprawling urban centers. In their works, these artists are living Africa's present and future, with all the anxiety or confidence that this may entail." — Festival International de Nouvelle Danse, Montreal, Canada

Dance performances and companies include:

  • Incantation, Compagnie Danse Nyata-Nyata, Canada/Congo
  • Le Coq Est Mort, Compagnie Jant-Bi, Germany/Senegal
  • Phokwane, Mpheyane, Vincent Mantsoe, South Africa
  • Figninto, Compagnie Cie Salia ni Seydo, Burkina Faso
  • Heritage, Compagnie Sylvain Zabli, Ivory Coast
  • Uma Historia Da Duvida, Compagnie Clara Andermatt, Cape Verde/Portugal
  • Dimi, Compangnie Tehetche, Ivory Coast
  • Pour Antigone, Comagnie Mathilde Monnier, France/Burkina Faso/Mali


"The idea of a developing African dance avant-garde is still unfamiliar in North America, where classes in traditional African dance remain popular, as do touring African dance companies. [The film's] virtue is the cogency with which the choreographers explain their ideas and provide the link between their very different pieces. The basic theme is that modern dance in Africa, even if influenced by the West, remains rooted in Africa because it is danced by Africans." — Anna Kisselgoff, NY Times, 01/10/03
"…a very important documentation for the development of modern African dance for this period of time!" — Kajo Nelles, Director of the International Dance Fair, Germany
"It would be excellent to show all of our dance classes, especially our history and performance classes…" — Gail Hoak, Dance Chair, Mt. San Jacinto College, California

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
University of Florida, Movement Revolution Dialogues: Contemporary Performance In and Of Africa, 2004
Brooklyn Academy of Music, Rose Cinemas, 2003
Videodance Festival, Greece, 2004
Woods Hole Film Festival, Massachusetts, 2003
Black Harvest Film Festival, Chicago, 2003
Cape Museum of Fine Arts, Dennis, Massachusetts, 2002
Dance on Camera Film Festival, New York, 2003
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark, 2003
Dance on Camera West, Los Angeles, 2003
Wesleyen University, Connecticut, 2003
State University of New York – Rochester, 2003
Chatham Cape Cod Film Society, Massachusetts, 2003
Melbourne International Festival of the Arts, Australia, 2003
Maui International Film Festival, 2003
Society for Visual Anthropology, American Anthropological Association Conference, Chicago, 2003
Videodance, Greece, 2004
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, 2004
5th Starz Denver Pan African Film Festival, Colorado, 2004
Roxbury Film Festival, Boston, 2004
Documenta Madrid, International Documentary Film Festival, 2005

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Keep The Dance Alive
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