Successful dance group from Burkina Faso stimulates cultural exchange

July 2006 -

In a relaxed, almost serene atmosphere, ten dancers are practicing their movements. In Amsterdam Krisztina de Châtel, Salia Sanou and Seydou Boro prepare the Tando choreography to Habib Koité like guitar music. De Châtel saw a presentation by her African colleagues a few years ago and was quite impressed: "Their dancing is austere, tight, compact and rhythmic." Her admiration has now resulted in Tando, which will be performed for the first time at the international July Dance Festival (Julidans) in Amsterdam.

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The Tando dancers (Photo: Femke Reijerman)

Boro is co-founder of Compagnie Salia nï Seydou from Burkina Faso. The group has been appearing for years, particularly in France. The founders live part of the year in each of these countries, but soon this situation will change. "In December we are opening our own theatre in Ouagadougou. We are throwing the doors open for other companies from African and Western countries. We are going to focus more on education and expand Dialogues de Corps, our exchange project with neighbouring countries. Politicians discuss matters; we ensure that people actually meet. Dance can contribute so much for understanding between people."

Châtel, Sanou and Boro are all three working on the choreography for Tando. That cannot be an easy task. "It works out rather well. Body language is the same everywhere," Boro explains. "And we can communicate quite well using images." De Châtel nods enthusiastically in agreement: "The work process is quite organic."

Tando stands for earth - European and African earth. "We are Africans and are rhythmically oriented. Our dance has always been mixed with western forms, without doing violence to our tradition," Boro continues. "But we also work quite aesthetically and we find Krisztina to be an inspiring partner in this."

Tando can be seen on 7 July in the Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam as part of the July Dance Festival; then in November the group will tour the Netherlands and in December it will tour Burkina Faso.
Compagnie Salia nï Seydou is supported in part by the Hivos Culture Fund.