In July 2023 Dance Base Scotland and Edinburgh International Festival proudly welcomed 24 dance artists taking part in an Artistic Development Week, connecting Scotland and countries across Africa.
In August 2023, dancers from across Africa came to Edinburgh to perform in The Rite of Spring / common ground[s], in the first collaboration between the Pina Bausch Foundation (Germany), École des Sables (Senegal) and Sadler’s Wells (UK), presented as part of Edinburgh International Festival.
Pina Bausch’s The Rite of Spring, was first performed in the UK in 1978 at the International Festival. In 2023 it returned with the original choreography and a cast of 34 specially assembled dancers from 14 African countries. In this pioneering work, on an earth-covered stage, dancers clash and engage in a wild and poetic struggle to the music of Igor Stravinsky.
In an added international dimension, the British Council supported an artistic development week that brought together twelve dance artists from across Scotland to exchange skills and collaborate with twelve counterparts who were here in Edinburgh to perform in The Rite of Spring. The development week was led by Artistic Director of Dance Base, Tony Mills and co-facilitated by Joel Ramirez.
Over the course of five days the dance artists came together for daily classes and then worked in small groups to share practice and took part in reflections and conversations with a focus on creation and artistic devising.
The aim of the Artistic Development Week was for the artists from across Scotland and Africa to:
- connect and share practice with each other, opening themselves to new techniques and creative approaches
- to network with their national and international peers
- to collaborate with international artists and create together
Image Credit: by Amy Sinead Photography
Meet the Artists
Alan Greig (Scotland)
Alan was born in Scotland in 1962. He is an LGBTQ+ dance artist based in Edinburgh, working as a noted choreographer, performer, teacher, and mentor. Alan works extensively throughout the UK, internationally and was artistic director for X Factor Dance Company from 1990 until 2009. Alan has staged international performances in Germany, New York City, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Dublin. Alan is presently researching a one-man solo show ‘Within Reach’ which deals with the ageing body, self-written monologues and taking dance into new and unusual spaces in public buildings. His work explores gender, humour, text and is created through improvisation.
Amadou Lamine (Pi) Sow (Senegal)
Amadou, known as Pim is a dancer, performer and teacher, mainly focussed on different traditional African dance but trained in several styles including contemporary, house, hip-hop and Afropop. He is member of the Senegalese National Ballet, La Linguére, and graduated from the Alvine Academy Ailey Senegal. He is also choreographer for the Sunu Percu dance company and Artistic Director of the Festival International Jakarlo.
Amy Robertson (Scotland)
Amy is a dance artist based in Edinburgh, working as a performer, teacher and maker. Before studying dance, she started a degree in engineering and is still very much with this way of thinking about bodies, space and information. Over the last couple of years Amy has also been engaging in regenerative practices that sustain and celebrate our earthliness, focusing at the moment on the spaces and beings we are moving with. As a performer Amy has worked a lot with voice and movement and is always happy to be working physically with sound and the body.
Aoufice Junior Gouri (Ivory Coast)
Ivorian dancer-performer Junior graduated from the National Superior School of Arts and Culture in the Ivory Coast, and continues to develop through further training, workshops, and performances. His motto is: ‘live my passion to the fullest by taking up challenges’.
Aziz B Abdoul Zoundi (Bukina Faso)
Aziz is a dancer, artist, and performer from Burkina Faso. He is currently training through workshops in dance, theatre, and music at the Bouamani Africa Centre. He is also part of the training program in contemporary dance at CDC La Termitière, Je Danse Don Je Suis et Yeleen don
Babacar Mané (Senegal)
Babacar has worked with multiple dance companies. He joined the National School of Arts of Senegal to train in choreography. Babacar was the winner of the Institut Français de Paris’ Visa Pour La Création 2020 program.
Brian Oloo (Kenya)
Brian is a Kenyan-born performer. He works with several organisations in East-Africa such as Yawa dance company and Ibuka dance foundation as co-artistic director. Brian’s most profound work was Mizani, a piece about gender equality, which toured ten towns in Tanzania and impacted thousands of people.
Dorine Mugisha (Scotland)
Dorine Mugisha believes in representing everyBODY in dance. She is an international dancer, performer, event organiser and retreat leader. Originally Tanzanian, born and raised in France, living in Scotland, she is inspired by an array of cultures and speaks 4 languages. Her background is in Hiphop and choreography, but in the last 3 years has been developing her voice within Whacking, with influences from various traditional African dance styles. She has a degree in Law & Sociology, previously worked in the charity sector and has an IAFPD Primary Certificate in Health and Wellbeing Coaching. She aims to combine her passion for movement and travelling to tell stories, especially from those under represented.
Evelina Sjödin Bergström (Scotland)
Evelina Sjödin Bergström is an emerging dance artist and choreographer from Sweden, currently based in Scotland. She recently graduated from The Scottish School of Contemporary Dance, where she got to perform in the works of others and create pieces of her own. Her movement practice mainly revolves around exploring textures and dynamics through movement.
Florent Sidnoma Nikiema (Bukina Faso)
Florent is a Burkinabé dancer-performer, graduate of EDIT, certified teacher from the École des Sables and CDC la Termitière. He has trained with dancers such as Salia Ni Seydou, Laurence Levasseur, Irène Tassembédo, Angélin Preljocaj and Germaine Acogny.
Gloria Ugwarelojo Biachi (Nigeria)
Gloria is a Lagos based Nigerian dancer, choreographer, fitness instructor, actor and costume designer. She is a 2010 alumnus of the Dance Deal foundation Lagos, under the Artistic Direction of Bimbo Obafunwa. Her training includes national and international residencies and workshops with leading choreographers, and includes successful stints in theatre, television and motion picture, including Netflix original Mystic River. Gloria specializes in working with children of all ages and debuted her solo Ile at the 2021 FIDO International Festival
Hamshya Rajkumar (Scotland)
Hamshya Rajkumar is an inter-disciplinary artist who navigates through embodied movement, intention and ritual.
By situating the body outside the constraints of binary structures, she explores our human place in a world where ‘nature’ is separate, dominated and objectified.
Harivola Rakotondraso (Madagascar)
Born in 1987, Harivola is the Artistic Director of the DIHY Project, an association for dance training and outreach. Living in Madagascar, he organises cultural events and works with companies such as Hetsika Madagascar, Asara, Anjorombala and Sasha Waltz and Guests through Zaratiana Randrianantenaina
Kemono Lebe Riot (Scotland)
Kemono L.Riot is an artist that wears his emotions as a cloth whenever he moves. He is known for his storytelling and for being a deep diver of truth. In each performance, he hopes to discover a little bit more about us human beings. Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and raised in Glasgow, he has trained in several street dance styles and specialises in Hip-Hop and Krump. Kemono has performed and toured with several artists and competed in some of the biggest battle arenas across Europe.
Melissa Heywood (Scotland)
Melissa is a contemporary dance artist and physical theatre performer based in Edinburgh. Her choreographic and filmic work often touches on ecological themes and encapsulates a sense of adventure. She has recently completed a period of engagement with Dance Base where she developed her practice with support from their Dancers Emerging Bursary Scheme 22/23. Melissa holds qualifications in contemporary dance from Trinity Laban and in musical theatre performance from The MGA Academy. Alongside her work as a dance artist Melissa also works in charity fundraising and is one of the co-founders of The Grounding Project (@the_grounding_project_) collective.
Oxana Banshikova (Scotland)
Oxana is a dance artist from Kazakhstan. Her dance work is inspired by the 4 countries that she calls home and her constant search for identity. Her practice is deeply routed in Bharatanatyam, although she was trained in jazz and ballet before she committed to 5 years professional training in Indian Classical dance in India. Oxana is absolutely fascinated by Indian Classical Dance and music and can never get enough of it even after 20 years of her professional career as a dancer, teacher and choreographer.
Pirita Tuisku (Scotland)
Pirita Tuisku is a Finnish Dance artist living in Scotland. She has been working as a Dancer, Choreographer and Teacher in Finland, Scotland, South Africa and Hong Kong. Versatile artist has already over 17 years of experience working in different fields in dance. Her passion is to create work that will engage with audience, emerge with different art forms and bring alive topics from daily life. She gets inspired working in a diverse collaboration with curious and open mindset. Her own curiosity is about how she can push her own boundaries as mover. Time outside from dance Pirita has passion in upcycling Jewellery making and working as an Aerial yoga teacher.
Sam Vaherlehto (Scotland)
Sam Vaherlehto is a highly accomplished, queer identifying dancer, choreographer, and educator, who graduated from the Ballet School of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet in 2007. He has performed in numerous classical ballets and works by contemporary choreographers, winning multiple awards such as the first So You Think You Can Dance contest in Finland in 2010.He has toured globally with companies such as Susanna Leinonen Company and Phoenix Dance Theatre, and his artistry has taken him to Denmark, Israel, and US, along with his role as a rehearsal director with SLATE in China, have solidified his reputation as an exceptional artist in the dance world.
Serge A. Dodo (Ivory Coast)
Serge is a choreographer and performer from the Ivory Coast. He trained at the National School of Theatre and Dance (ENTD), where he obtained a Diploma of Artistic Advanced studies (DESA) and at École des Sables, Senegal. He has his own dance company King’Art and teaches contemporary dance at the AHK University of Art in Amsterdam.
Shelly Tetely Ohene-Nyako (Ghana)
Shelly is Ghanaian and Swiss. After completing her bachelor’s degree in performing arts, she worked as a freelance dancer. She moved to Ghana in 2018, where she started teaching ballet & fusing multiples styles together. Her aim is to help the performing arts scene in Africa to grow.
Suzi Cunningham (Scotland)
Suzi Cunningham is a Scottish live-performance artist and Butoh dancer. Her solo work is highly physical, political and responsive to its unique environment, enriched with her sense of design and musical composition. Suzi explores relationships with all life forms as well as manufactured materials, making embodied connections in a way that borders transformation. Suzi toured her solo work Eidos and Rules To Live By across Scotland in 2021. She also co-created the clowning cleaning window duo Buff and Sheen in 2020, performing through hundreds of windows across Scotland and Italy since then. She is a dancer with Oceanallover and Nomoss and collaborates with a diversity of artists performing at local events and Festivals across UK and Internationally.
Tess Letham (Scotland)
Tess is based in Edinburgh, working as a performer, educator, dance theatre maker and curator. Her performance work spans dance-theatre, film, outdoor and large-scale spectacle and has included projects by Shotput, Simon Fildes/Cagoule, David Zambrano, PanicLab, and Mairead McClean/The Wapping Project as well as her own work. Her own creations combine passions for multi-disciplinary theatre, dynamic physicality and high quality integrated design and has included her inaugural show, “How to Survive the Future”, and mid-scale work, “Remedy for Memory”. She is developing her latest projects under the handle of Fair Play. This includes “Where We Used to Wander” for Hidden Door 2023, and currently in development – “What ever happened to Harmony Banks?”
Vasco Pedro Mirine (Mozambique)
Vasco is Mozambican. He graduated in sculpture (ADPP) and trained in performing arts (P.A.R.T.S). He spent ten years working in the visual arts, during this time he also worked with the municipal singing and African dance company Matola and collaborated with Culturarte Mozambique. Vasco is a multidisciplinary artist and freelancer trained in contemporary afro and afro-street dances at École des Sables
Zadi Landry Kipre (Ivory Coast)
Born in Abidjan, dancer, choreographer, and acrobat Zadi has participated in the 7th Jeux de la Francophonie in Nice and won third prize for Best Creation at the Algiers International Dance Festival. Zadi is currently the assistant choreographer of both the National Ballet of the Ivory Coast and the international circus AFRIKA AFRIKA.