Benin Sacred Dances, medicine for 21st century’ Souls
Koffi Koko invites us to meet his country, the former Dahomey. This experience wants to share Dance as well as expose Koffi’s point of view on Africa.
Koffi Koko is known as one of the pioneers and most prominent representatives of Modern African Dance.
The animistic ritual Nago and Yoruba dances learned since childhood in Benin, gave rise to his personal language. It was possible by the encounter with different disciplines such as Japanese Butoh, martial arts, contemporary dance and theater. The fruit of this research is a language that deeply touches the human soul.
He has collabored with artists such as Pierre Doussaint, Patrick Dupont, Yoshi Oida, Mari Carmen Garcia, Ismael Ivo, Susanne Linke, Floros Floridis…
Koffi Koko won the Best Production award at the Time Out Prize in London for “Maids” (2003), which had already traveled around the world. He was artistic director for “In Transit” festival (2004-2005) for the House of World Cultures in Berlin, where from 2013 to 2016 he teaches as professor at the Academy of Fine Arts. Biennale di Venezia hosted him with “La Beauté du Diable” (2012).
For more than 30 years Koffi Koko has been teaching in Europe, Africa and the Usa, giving speaches about his philosofy related to dance. He created FEIDA (African Dance Professional Training Federation), Atout African association for social projects, and founded in Ouidah an intercultural center for the arts, operational since 2014 and still in development. The Maestro unique body of work is recount in the book “Passagen” by Johannes Odenthal, published on the 13th of October 2018.
Benin (West Africa) is a Democratic Republic, between Togo and Nigeria. In 1990 it passed from socialism to Republic without civil war, single example in Africa.
The stay is based on the concept of Dance not perceived as only physical training, but rather as an “exercise of the soul”.
Dance is a fundamental part of local culture, as well as music and singing, lived not only as individual pleasure but also as means to connect with one’s inner part and communicate with ancestors and divinities.
This experience wishes to offer the participant the possibility to enter into the spiritual world of “Vodun” (“spirit in Fon language) or “Orisha” (same meaning in Yoruba) through participation in typical ceremonies of this creed, considered a real philosophy of life.
Despite Vodun’s noble status as one of the world’s oldest religions, it has been typically characterised as a barbaric and primitive practice based on superstition and spectacle. Much of this image however, is due to concerted effort to suppress and distort a legittimate and unique religion that flourished among enslaved Africans, who brought their religion to the Americas.
Ouidah is a city symbolic of slavery. We can walk down the “Slavery Road” where millions of Africans, also from neighboring regions, were forced in the infamous “journey of no return”.
Here, each January the 10th an important national celebration of the Vodun religion takes place, which will be one of the stages of our trip.
Ouidah is a site of the diaspora. Every year delegations from the Americas arrive there to pay tribute to this town considered the cradle of many other syncretic religions such as Brazilian Candomblé, Cuban Santerìa and Haitian Voudou. Some of its monuments dedicated to the diaspora are Unesco World Heritage sites.
Dance and Music Courses
Open level courses are scheduled with local artists, in open spaces near the seaside, in the Cultural Center of traditional and Contemporary Dance, Theatrical and Musical Development, founded by Koffi Koko in Ouidah.
It is possible to organise various excursions and visits to the royal city of Abomey steeped in history, to the ancient capital Porto Novo, to Grand Popo’s pristine beaches and mangroves, and also to Ganvié town on stilts, built in the XVIII century to escape the slavers.
Also percussion lessons are available.
Fees for all the extra activities can be agreed.
The stay is planned in the Cultural Center’s bungalows, in line with the environment.
- Passport: at least 6 months validity;
- Entry Visa issued by Benin Embassy/Consulate (compulsory). The flight ticket and an invitation letter are required;
- Yellow fever vaccine: compulsory;
- Antimalarial prophylaxis: optional but recommended;
- Consult your doctor for others vaccines or medicines.
- Transfer from/to Cotonou Airport;
- Full board accomodation in airy bungalows (1 drink offered each meal);
- Dance course;
- Participation in ceremonies.
- Travel tickets;
- Travel insurance (highly recommended);
- Extra meal drinks;
- Personal expenses;
- Excursions on request;
- Visa fees expenses.
Aronì Amandla Calles