“Astounding physical daring . . . the group’s work makes Western modern dance look tame.” —New York Times
AfricaNOW: Currents of a Continent, the Walker Art Center’s exploration of contemporary expression from across sub-Saharan Africa, continues with Compagnie TchéTché (eagle) performing Dimi (women’s sorrow) at 8 pm Tuesday and Wednesday, November 14 and 15 in the William and Nadine McGuire Theater. Contemporary African dance has emerged as a global powerhouse over the past decade, exemplified by the highly physical, all-female Compagnie TchéTché from Cote d’Ivoire. Acclaimed by audiences in Africa and Europe, Dimi addresses the social injustice, repressive morality, and enduring patriarchal culture faced by women in Africa. Directed by the esteemed Beatrice Kombe, Compagnie TchéTché draws from the incredibly varied movement and rhythmic traditions of West Africa. With choreography that skirts the edge of physical impossibility, TchéTché emphatically reclaims the power and purpose of African women for a new age.
AfricaNOW: Currents of a Continent presents music, theater, and movement drawn from four countries embody the genius that so often results when artists wed profoundly rich traditions with present-day influences. Subsequent programs feature the township theater of The Farber Foundry (South Africa) in February 2007 and the joyous jazz-fusion of Gangbé Brass Band (Benin) in April 2007.
Compagnie TchéTché was founded by Béatrice Kombé in 1997 to “show that woman is not the weaker gender.” TchéTché has emerged as a valiant symbol of the power and passion of women. The company’s signature style is powerhouse dancing at the edge of physical danger juxtaposed with intense and arresting stillness. Through dance, the company reconfigures notions of “subservient” African womanhood into an emphatic reclaiming of power and purpose.
In Dimi, translated as “Women’s Sorrow,” artistic director Kombé explores the complexities of contemporary African women. The work features four dancers accompanied by live musicians playing the Fulani flute and keyboards. Dimi deals with the inner conflicts of a generation familiar with social injustice, repressive morality, and patriarchal structures. Each dancer brings to the stage her own experiences and provides a glimpse of the struggles each has endured as women growing up in an unstable urban environment. Audiences witness the complex meetings between individuals with all their longings, aversions, and enmities as well as their intimacy and solidarity. Kombé draws from deeply felt and experienced sources of pain and courage to create hurtling physicality that touches both women and men alike.
Compagnie TchéTché’s repertoire includes the award winning Dimi (1999); Sans Reperes (1999); Source (2000), Geeme (2003). In 2002 TchéTché collaborated with the all-male dance company Kongo Ba Téria from Burkina Faso to create Nagtaba.
The company has performed extensively at international festivals and art houses in Africa and Europe including: MASA (Côte d’Ivoire), Le Festival Kaay Fecc (Senegal), Rencontres Choreographiques Africaines (Madagascar), Dance Encounters of Contemporary African Dance (Angola); In Transit Festival (Germany); International Choreographic Meeting (Germany); The Venice Biennale (Italy); Montpellier Dance Festival (France); Theatre Paul Saint Martin (France), Africalia (Belgium); the Festival Voix de Femmes (Belgium) and Tanz Experience (Jordan). In North America the company has performed at the University of Florida, Center for World Arts (Gainesville, FL); UA Presents (Tucson, AZ); New World School of Art (Miami, FL); Dance Center of Columbia College (Chicago, IL) and the Festival de la Nouvelle Danse (Montreal). The company has an ongoing relationship with the Center for World Arts at the University of Florida and was in residence in 2001 and 2004.
TchéTché was awarded the UNESCO prize at the MASA Festival in Côte d’Ivoire for its performance of Dimi as well as second place at the Rencontres Choreographiques Africaines in Madagascar and the International Choreographic Meeting in Germany.
Béatrice Kombé is the Choreographer and Artistic Director of Compagnie TchéTché. As the daughter of a master traditional dancer, Kombé acquired her knowledge of African dance at an early age—performing with Côte d’Ivoire’s national ballet, Ballet de la Marahouét, at the age of 12. Later she performed with Compagnie Djalem and Compagnie Tenzo (where she also served as assistant choreographer). Her first choreographic work was for Compagnie Lakimodo, which was presented at the 1997 Third Meeting of MASA. Also that year, Kombé, along with Guillaume Bridji Lebri, founded Compagnie TchéTché.
In 1998, Kombé helped set the choreography for La Compagnie N’sholeh dance work Corps Actif which won First Place in the Annual Meeting of Contemporary African Choreography in Angola. In 2001 and 2004 she was in residence at the University of Florida’s Center for World Arts. Kombé’s work has been presented extensively in Africa, Europe, and North America and is featured in the documentary film African Dance: Sand, Drum, and Shostakovich by Ken Glazebrook and Alla Kovgan.
Jeety Bridji Lebri
Company Manager Jeety Bridji Lebri was born in 1970 in Abidjan. His career course began in 1990 with the creation of the group Pop Rock’n’roll of the Ivory Coast Glay’ Doo in London. In 1995, he gave up his university studies to enter the field of artistic management. He has managed the mythical rock’n’roll band, the Black Devils, and participated in the Womex (World Music Exposition) 97 in Marseilles. He co-founded TchéTché with Beatrice Kombé. In addition to his work with the company, he manages the musical groups Sakoloh, Gbazza Fitgaro et Glay’ Doo. For more information on his producing association Jeety’s, visit www.jeetys.com.
Dancer Nina Kipre was born in 1976 in Bingerville, Ivory Coast. She began her career within Djolem in 1994, and joined the Lakimado Company in 1996 with whom she obtained the first prize of the “francophonie” in Madagascar in 1998. She joined TchéTché Company in 1998.
Dancer Nadia Beugre was born in 1981 in Zikisso in Ivory Coast. She made her first appearances within the Dante Theatre in 1995. Since 1998, she has been a member of the TchéTché company.
Dancer Flavienne Lagon was born in 1980 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. She began her career within the “Joed Système” in 1994 which led her to take part in the ” Variétoscope ” Ivory Coast contest. In 1997, with this same group, she won the second Variétoscope Price. Since 1998, she has been a member of the TchéTché Company.
Tickets to Compagnie TchéTché’s Dimi are $25 ($20 Walker members) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600.