Name of teacher / supervisor
Patrick Acogny

Period, duration
Block 1, Week 36-41

Study load
54 hours

1, 2, 3, 6

The objectives of the class are to teach and familiarise contemporary dancers with aesthetics and principles of African Dance forms and to learn how to use them in their own practices and dance techniques/styles.

Content and design of the class
The class is divided in 4 parts and supported by live music: Kinesthetic (somatic) and warmup: This is about 30 min long. The class starts standing with an invitation to explore the central axis. The dancers must feel the impulse and explore the genesis of the  undulation of the spine . They investigate and construct a new inner landscape while gaining a better control of the spine movements. Walking and dancing. This is  about 45 min long. After the exploration of the spine, the dancers start walking flat feet on the spot, creating echos and vertical vibration from feet to the head. They must keep the spine activated through swaying or undulation. Gradually the intensity and the speed of the rhythm and of the movement increase to reach a state of strong dancing. The section is very physical and requires endurance and strength. Deconstructing. This is  about 1h long. Through a set of various exercises, the dancers learn and investigate the different principles of African dance such as: grounding, bouncing, polycentrism  polyrhythm, and posture. The sequences of movements are long (a series of at  least  3 to 8 different movements) and the patterns, duration and speed can change and increase to challenge the dancers. Cooling down. This is about 15 min long. When the dancers are familiar with the content of the class, another section is added. Short choreographies to explore expressivity and appropriation  of the movement.

Learning goals

  • Basics and fundamentals of West African dances: grounding, bouncing, use of the spine, posture, polycentrism, Some discussion of the founding figures of the technique that lead to aesthetics and styles of practice. Technique: use of the feet, the spine (head, back, pelvis), the qualities of movements, rotations, vibrations, oscillations, tremors, posture,
  • Expressiveness: facial expression, projection, flair, comedy, cool, contrast, vitality and energy
  • Musicality: polyrhythmic, cycle, time with music, time with others, creative time, dynamics, time and departure, etc. Physical: balance, coordination, strength, insulation, flexibility and endurance.
  • Improvisations: variations around basic steps and founding principles, variety and uses of dynamics in movements, changing directions and spaces, moving from slow to fast and inversely, inventing new patterns and movements, working on rhythmic complexities and difficulties techniques, etc. Many of these points are familiar to the contemporary dancers. Mapping the principles of African dance should help the dancers to understand and assimilate deeply what they are given by working not only on their kinesthetic sensations but also by knowing how it is seen from the outside.

Working method (s) used
Group classes, training and assignments will be given to individuals but also groups assignments and peer to peer work and feedbacks. After the technique class. Protocol of deconstruction will be explained and exercises to practice will be given to permit dancers through improvisation, to apply newly acquired skills. Constant feedback will take place between students, as well as from the teacher.

Used study material
A map of aesthetics and principles of African Dance Forms

Assessment criteria:
See: learning goals

Method of assessment
A self-evaluation sheet will be provided based on the aesthetics and principles of African Dance Forms. Constant feedback during the class will be provided individually to the dancers and overall discussion will take place to discuss expectations and objectives. Learning goals in the class contribute to the overall development of the competency indicators: 1.1 / 1.2 / 1.4/ 1.7/ 2.1/ 3.2/6.3 .

The overall development of the student is assessed at integral assessment meetings, twice a year, through combined self-assessment and assessment by teachers, coaches and mentors.