(b Porto Novo, Benin, 1944)
Sengalese dancer, choreographer teacher and director. She was introduced to traditional African dance through her grandmother, a Yoruba priestess, but she also trained in Western contemporary dance styles, in Paris, New York, and with Béjart in Brussels. In 1968 she established a dance studio in Dakar, Senegal, and between 1977 and 1982 was director of Mudra Afrique International, a centre for African dance studies that she established with the help of Béjart. After the Mudra closed Acogny returned to Brussels to work further with Béjart, and toured as both performer and workshop leader throughout Europe and in Senegal.
In 1985 she founded a studio and company in Toulouse, France, and while continuing to perform as a soloist, for instance with musician Peter Gabriel, her reputation as a choreographer expanded as commissions from a range of companies including the City of São Paolo Ballet furthered her distinctive style, fusing classical and contemporary, African and European techniques. In 1995 she returned to Senegal where she founded L'École des Sables, a school that has subsequently become a world centre for African dance as well as her own company Jant-Bi. She has choreographed several works for that company starting with Le coq est mort (1999) but has continued to promote African dance in Europe becoming artistic director of dance in Department of African Creation, and director of the Choreographic Meetings of African Dance, both in Paris. Her success in raising the profile of her native dance led Dance Magazine to describe her as the ‘first lady of modern African dance’ in 1996.
She is recipient of several awards including Chevalier de L'Ordre de la Légion d'honneur and Knight of the National Order of the Lion of Senegal.
http://www.jantbi.org Website for the company Jant-Bi