Sankofa: From Vision to Reality

SANKOFA is a new Afro-contemporary dance work by Asanti Dance Theatre. Described as a stunning fusion of modern discipline and raw rhythmic energy, this visceral and uplifting work was crafted by Australia’s leading African dancer/ choreographer and is directed by Sidney Myer Fellow Appiah Annan of Asanti Dance Theatre.

The piece features international guest artists from Ghana with some of Australia’s most talented afro-contemporary performers. With the show heading to the Gold Coast for one night only on April 2nd, director Appiah Annan discusses what audiences can expect.

Appiah can you tell us a little about the show?
Sankofa is my first full length afro-contemporary work. It explores the traditional Adinkra symbol which teaches us that before you can move forward you must look back to the past. When I was beginning my research for the show I know that this was an important part of our culture and that it is a theme that people can identify with no matter where they have come from. The more I looked into it the more I realized that this was a really important story to tell.

What was the creative process like?
Some of it was easy and some of it was really hard. When you are working in two worlds and trying to create a new dance vocabulary it can be difficult to get the other creative on the project to trust your vision and just go with it. Most of the time this was fine but there were times when other people working on the project were challenged by the work and didn’t want to do the things that I was asking of them because it was different to what they know. That part was difficult because its not just about being an artistic director but also being able to manage a whole lot of people who come from different backgrounds and that have different beliefs about how dance and music should be made and played. I know that for some of the artists involved in the project I was asking a lot of them and I am very thankful that they worked through it and trusted me to guide the creative process.

What made you want to step away from traditional dance and into a contemporary format?
I love my traditional dances and have learnt a lot from my predecessors but even in Ghana I was trying to explore new boundaries. In coming to Australia I thought that all of my dreams would come true and that I could make anything possible. I realized quickly when I got here that actually it’s not that easy and I have had to work hard to get to where I am now. I found myself performing in the cultural dance scene here in Melbourne and while I enjoy presenting my culture to other people at festivals and parties and that sort of thing I was feeling like my work as an artist was not being able to grow. I slowly began exploring afro-contemporary dance and putting short dances into our festival sets. The audiences loved the contemporary movement and the more I explored it the more I realized that this was a new area of interest for me.

What’s next for Asanti Dance Theatre?
At the moment we are the company in residence at the Knox Community Arts Centre. We are developing a new afro – contemporary dance work called Culture Shock and is also working on a kid’s show that draws on traditional Ghanaian stories told through theatre, dance, music and acrobatics.

The main focus for me at the moment is to continue to refine my afro – contemporary dance vocabulary. I have discovered a rich afro – contemporary dance scene throughout Africa and Europe and want to keep researching what is out there and exploring my own way of moving and creating work.

Sankofa is at The Arts Centre Gold Coast on Saturday 2 April at 7.30pm
Ticket can be purchased here.

Be first to comment