African dance film makes debut


Published: Friday, January 11, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 11, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

After appearing at conferences and film festivals across Europe, Africa and the Americas, "Movement (R)evolution Africa: A Story of an Art Form in Four Acts" is at last returning home for its Gainesville premiere.

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Nora Chipaumire performs Pungwe in "Movement (R)evolution Africa: A Story of an Art Form in Four Acts."

Special to The Sun

Facts

"Movement (R)evolution Africa"

What: Documentary about contemporary dance in Africa by UF School of Theatre and Dance professor and Center for World Arts co-director Joan Frosch. A post-screening discussion will follow.

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday

Where: Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, 315 Hull Road

Tickets: Free at the door

Through the voices and bodies of nine choreographers, the film is a powerful messenger of commanding, contemporary dance in and of Africa.

"Movement (R)evolution" will be screened at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. It will be presented by the UF Center for Arts and Public Policy; admission is free.

The striking film, completed in early 2007, was directed and produced by UF School of Theatre and Dance professor and Center for World Arts co-director Joan Frosch. It debuted at New York's Dance on Camera Film Festival last January, where it was nominated for the Jury Prize and praised by The Village Voice.

After the film, the audience may remain for a discussion with several dancers and three renowned choreographers featured in the film.

Germaine Acogny, considered the founding mother of Senegalese contemporary dance, will be on hand.

"She's such as compelling screen personality; her energy almost takes over the film," Frosch says. "It's such an honor for us to have such a historic figure and for the audience to be able to meet and engage her."

Acogny won last year's New York Dance and Performance Award, also known as the Bessie Award, for Best Choreographer for "Fagaala," a piece depicted in the film. She is the founder of Company Jant-Bi (the Wolof - a language spoken in Senegal - word for sun). The all-male company made its U.S. debut at Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival in 2000; Dance Magazine called their performance "A major event ... a stunner."

Another 2007 Bessie award winner (for Best Performer) is Nora Chipaumire, a member of the all-female Urban Bush Women, based in Brooklyn.

Frosch calls Chipaumire, who also choreographs her own solo work, "an exquisite dancer." Chipaumire, originally from Zimbabwe, will be present at Monday's post-film dialogue.

Urban Bush Women (UBW) founder/director Jawole Willa Jo Zollar will also be present.

"Jawole is a leader who has bridged African-American and contemporary dance in a cutting-edge way," Frosch says. "She's managed a deconstruction, in some senses, of both dance experiences and created something with a real vibrancy and edge."

Company Jant-Bi and Urban Bush Women arrive Monday as part of a week-long residency. Monday's film screening officially kicks off a collaboration between the two companies. The residency will culminate in "Les écailles de la mémoire," a rousing world-premiere production at the Phillips on Thursday.

The film depicts this collaboration's initial moments, as artists from the companies improvise together for the first time on screen.

"The interaction shown on film between the two companies is the birth of the product that we'll see on Jan. 17," says Frosch. "Viewing the film, meeting the artists will really bring the work completely to life ... this is even Germaine and Company Jant-Bi's first time seeing the film on the big screen.

"Attending the film gives the public context - to get to know the work, why it is so important, to meet these extraordinary artists and to get excited about the world premiere performance to come."

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