Skip to main content
Back to search
  • Add to playlist

La danseuse d'ébène

(with subtitles)

La danseuse d'ébène

(with subtitles)

La danseuse d'ébène

Seydou Boro, for a while an interpreter for Mathilde Monnier, is also a choreographer and a director. He dedicates here a documentary to one of the figures of African creative dance, Irène Tassembédo, like himself from Burkina Faso, where the entire film was shot. This portrait, where Germaine Acogny also appears, helps restore an entire part of the history of dance, around the ties and tensions between two continents and two cultures.

Irène Tassembédo has been living in France for twenty years. In 1978 in Burkina, she was selected to follow the classes at the Mudra-Afrique school that Maurice Béjart set up in Dakar and that Germaine Acogny would direct. A meeting with Irène Tassembédo, leads to a vital subject: the issue of the body, its values and its imaginary world, as well as the special meaning it assumes for African dancers confronted with learning Western contemporary dance. By accompanying her career with numerous interviews, work sessions and journeys, this film evokes an approach based on genuine convictions: Irène Tassembédo believes that African dance must take its place in a changing world, without denying its own gestural technique and without its being frozen in a traditional scheme often synonymous of folklore. Her experience covers two generations of artists and their questioning of contemporary creation and cultural mixing.

Source : Irène Filiberti

Boro, Seydou

Born in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Seydou Boro followed in 1990 a training of actor in the theater company Feeren, directed by Amadou Bourou. In 1991 he was a theater performer, in "Marafootage", by Amadou Bourou and then in "Oedipus Roi" by Sophocles by Eric Podor. In 1993, he joined the company Mathilde Monnier at the CCN Montpellier. In 1992, Seydou Boro met Salia Sanou and together founded Salia nï Seydou in 1995, with their first work created in 1996, "The Century of Fools", halfway between African tradition and gestural modernity.

After 15 years of artistic adventures with Salia Sanou in the company Salia ni Seydou, Seydou Boro created his own company in 2010. He seeks to develop his choreographic research while expanding a more transversal approach through film and music creations. He created “Le Tango du Cheval" in 2010 and the same year released his first album: "Kanou", then adapted a traditional tale for children in 2013: “Pourquoi la hyène a les pattes inférieures plus courtes que celles de devant, et le singe les fesses pelées?" [Why do hyenas have shorter back legs than front legs and why do monkeys have bare bottoms?], and is preparing a film with Leslie Gremberg/Les Films Pénélope: "Corpus". He is also still touring with the pieces "C'est-à-dire" (2004) and "Concert d’un homme décousu" (2009) and is regularly invited to teach and present his repertoire in classes and master classes.    

His artistic work is inspired by ties woven over the years with the CDC la Termitière in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) of which he is co-director, and also other projects in France and abroad that provide space for research and experimentation. He has also worked with the Récréatrales in Ouagadougou, the Tof Theatre (puppets, Brussels), Mark Tompkins (company I.D.A) and is envisaging, with Bakary Sangaré from the Comédie Française, an adaptation of a text he wrote in 2002: “L’Exil dans l’Asile".     
In 2014, with “Surukou”, the company Seydou Boro recreated, with 4 musicians live on stage, the choreographic tale created in 2013 and released in 2015 “Le Cri de la Chair", for 6 dancers and 5 musicians.

Sources: Cie Seydou Boro 's website ; CRDP Limousin - show program ("Le cri de la chair", 2016)

More information

Tassembédo, Irène

Irène Tassembédo is a choreographer from Burkina Faso who lived in France for several years where she carried out quite unique artistic research by reinterpreting contemporary choreography by drawing on the land-based sources of African dance. In 1988, she formed Compagnie Ebène, then ten years after establishing the company, she created the Burkina Ballet in Ouagadougou. 

Irène Tassembedo intended to: bring together contemporary and African choreography in order to breathe modernity into African dance whilst continuing to preserve its roots and traditions. Her entire work, which illustrates her approach to African dance, was honoured by a SACD award in 2000. 

Also an actress, Irène Tassembedo has worked regularly hand-in-hand with the German director Matthias Langhoff. Alongside her latest creations, the choreographer runs a wide range of dance courses and master classes. She returned to settle in Burkina Faso in 2007 where she created new choreographic works and opened an international dance school “Les Tamariniers” offering contemporary Afro dance mentoring, in October 2009.

As part of her work promoting African choreographic heritage, she created the Ouagadougou International Dance Festival (OIDF) in January 2013; a dance festival which aims to promote and develop the different forms of dance present on the African continent and African diasporas throughout the world. The 1st edition of the festival brought together some twenty-seven dance companies from around the world and almost 3,000 spectators over eight days. The OIDF has also become a centre for professional encounters and for artistic expression and promotion. In 2016, she also coordinated the Triennial Danse l’Afrique danse !, an event organized by the Institut Français.

Source : Africultures

More information : 

Acogny, Germaine

Germaine Acogny is one of the best known personalities  of the African contemporary dance scene, including the field of teaching  and development of contemporary dance in Africa.  

Senegalese and French, she participated from 1962 till 1965 at the  formation at Simon Siegel’s school (the director was Ms Marguerite  Lamotte) in Paris and received a diploma in physical education and  harmonious gymnastics. Then, she founded her first dance studio in Dakar, 1968. Thanks to the  influence of the dances she had inherited from her grandmother, a Yoruba  priest, and to her studies of traditional African dances and Occidental  dances (classic, modern) in Paris and New York, Germaine Acogny created  her own technique of Modern African Dance and is considered to be the  “mother of Contemporary African dance”. 

Between 1977 and 1982 she was the artistic director of MUDRA  AFRIQUE (Dakar), created by Maurice Béjart and the Senegalese president  and poet Leopold Sedar Senghor. In 1980, she wrote her first book entitled “African Dance”, edited in  three languages. Once Mudra Afrique had closed, she moved to Brussels to work with  Maurice Béjart’s company, where she organised international African  dance workshops, which showed great success among the European students.  This same experience was repeated in Africa, in Fanghoumé, a small  village in Casamance, in the south of Senegal. People from Europe and  all over the world travelled to this place.

Together with her husband, Helmut Vogt, she set up in 1985, in  Toulouse, France, the “Studio-Ecole-Ballet-Théâtre du 3è Monde”.
After having been away from the stage for several years, Germaine Acogny  made her come back as a dancer and choreographer in 1987. She worked  with Peter Gabriel for a video clip and created her solo “Sahel”. Other  choreographies follow. Her solo “YE’OU”, created in 1988, tours on all continents and wins the  “London Contemporary Dance and Performance Award” in 1991.
In 1995, she decides to go back to Senegal, with the aim of creating an  International Centre for Traditional and Contemporary African Dances: a  meeting point for dancers coming from Africa and from all over the world  and, a place of professional education for dancers from the whole of  Africa with the aim to guide them towards a Contemporary African Dance. The construction of the Centre -also called “L’Ecole des Sables”- was  achieved in June 2004. Although, since 1998, three-month professional  workshops for African dancers and choreographers were organised every  year. About 40 dancers from all over Africa met, exchanged and worked  together each time.
In 1997, Germaine Acogny became Artistic Director of the “Dance section  of Afrique en Creations” in Paris, a position she held until September  2000. During this time, she was responsible for the Contemporary African  Dance Competition, an important platform for young African  choreographers.

In 2005, she was invited as regent at UCLA (University of Los Angeles).
Her solo “Tchouraï”, created in 2001, choreographed by Sophiatou Kossoko  was successfully touring until 2008. She has presented it in France  (Theatre de la Ville, Paris), Germany, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Italy,  the US (New York, Chicago) Brazil and in China (first Contemporary  Dance Festival in Shanghai).
In 2003/2004, she created the piece “Fagaala”, for her company JANT-BI,  based on the genocide in Rwanda. It was co-choreographed with Kota  Yamazaki/Japan for 7 African dancers, a fusion between Butoh and  traditional and contemporary African Dances. It had already three very  successful tours in the US, and was performed in Europe, Australia  (Melbourne Festival, Sydney Opera House) and in Japan.

In 2007, she and Kota Yamazaki received a BESSIE Award (New York Dance and Performance Award) for “Fagaala”.
Later that year, the great challenge was the choreographic part of the  OPERA du SAHEL, an important African creation, initiated and produced by  the Prince Claus Fund in Holland. It premiered in Bamako in February  2007, followed by performances in Amsterdam and Paris and a first  African Tour in 2009. 

In 2008, another choreographic work was organised as a collaboration  between Jant-Bi company (7 male dancers) and Urban Bush Women company (7  Afro-American female dancers) from New York. This new creation “Les  écailles de la mémoire – Scales of memory” was created by her and Jawole  Zollar, the artistic director of Urban Bush Women and had great success  during several touring in the USA and in Europe. Her creation, the solo “Songook Yaakaar” had its Premiere at the  Biennale de la danse in Lyon in September 2010.

In 2014 the French choreographer Olivier Dubois created a solo piece for  Germaine Acogny “Mon élue noire – Sacre no.2” based on the original  music of “Le Sacre du printemps.” In 2015 her new solo creation “Somewhere at the beginning”, came out in  collaboration with theatre director Mikael Serre, a creation that  combined dance, theater and video. The premier took place at the Grand  Theatre de la Ville du Luxembourg in June 2015. She continues to collaborate with international schools and Dance  Centers and regularly teaches master classes. From January 2015 she submitted the Artistic Direction of the Ecole des  Sables to her son Patrick Acogny. 

In 2020, Germaine Acogny and Helmut Vogt made the decision to hand  over the role of Artistic Direction and custodian of the Ecole des  Sables to two of its trusted Alumni that are also holders of the Acogny  Technique Diploma: Alesandra Seutin and Wesley Ruzibiza, to work  alongside Paul Sagne, who has been working and evolving within Ecole des  Sables for the last 15 years and who has now been appointed  Administrative Director.

In February 2021, Germaine Acogny was Awarded with “The Golden Lion for Lifetime achievement” in dance by the La Biennale di Venezia.

Source : Ecole des sables 's website

More information :

Our videos suggestions

Words of dancers

Paroles de danseurs (France)

  • Add to playlist


Winkler, Christoph (Germany)

  • Add to playlist

Study on rhythms and melodies

  • Add to playlist

Coupé Décalé studies Extract

  • Add to playlist

Ô my body !

  • Add to playlist


Raynal-Diarra, Cécile (France)

  • Add to playlist

La Danseuse d'ébène

Tassembédo, Irène (Burkina Faso)

  • Add to playlist

Pas à pas

Neumeier, John (France)

  • Add to playlist

En avant

  • Add to playlist

Classe au CNDC

Deschamps, Didier (France)

  • Add to playlist

Bruit blanc [Autour de Marie-France]

Monnier, Mathilde (France)

  • Add to playlist

Interview Mokhtar Boussouf | Pont Culturel Méditerranéen / NYA

  • Add to playlist


Gleich, Julia K. (United Kingdom)

  • Add to playlist


Lagraa, Abou (Algeria)

  • Add to playlist


Lagraa - Aït Benalla, Nawal (Algeria)

  • Add to playlist

On the bridge

Lagraa - Aït Benalla, Nawal (France)

  • Add to playlist

Ô mon corps

Lagraa, Abou (Algeria)

  • Add to playlist

Les Carnets Bagouet, université d'été

Bagouet, Dominique (France)

  • Add to playlist

Dominique Bagouet, 17 fragments sur le thème de l'enfance

Bagouet, Dominique (France)

  • Add to playlist
Our themas suggestions
By accessing the website, you acknowledge and accept the use of cookies to assist you in your browsing.
You can block these cookies by modifying the security parameters of your browser or by clicking onthis link.
I accept Learn more