artikelfotoZuid-Afrika, Senegal
Julidans - South African choreographer and dance company from Senegal
Kunst, 17 June 2014 - redactie Africaserver Magazine
foto: Christine Neder

"At the same time we were pointing a finger at you, we realized we were pointing three at ourselves..."
The South-African choreographer Robyn Orlin does not shrink away from provocative themes. In her work she has always opposed apartheid, racism, suppression of women and the clichés which cling to the art of dance. But always with a humorous twist. Following visits to the Julidans in 2005 and 2009 she is back with her latest performance, working with dancers from the Jant-Bi company from Dakar (Senegal). Their performance does away with the prejudices with which the body is weighed down in our world.
Exploration of the body in space, its everyday manifestations, its political implications... Although the body in space is a key issue for any choreographer, it is particularly a topic of discussion in the case of Robyn Orlin, especially in the African context. For this show, the South-African choreographer joins forces with the École des Sables founded by Germaine Acogny in 1998 in Dakar, a hub for dance that has endeavoured for nearly 15 years to develop new choreographic practices on African territory. On a continent where, according to Robyn Orlin, very little is said about the body, despite the many trials and tribulations it must undergo, it is essential to bring it out of the private sphere and place it front of stage. The body presents an often violent platform for debate on standards of beauty and ugliness, perfection and imperfection. As soon as violence surfaces, the body is devalued, regarded as “simply another body”. Africa is also a target for Western debates on the body, which tend to associate it with physical illness, such as disease or famine, or divergent codes of beauty. The dance performance reveals these mechanisms at work and re-evaluates the body, liberating it and attempting to encourage another stance, to circumvent, bypass and deviate us from our preconceptions. For this show, Robyn Orlin sets out to work with the dancers themselves, the way in which they apprehend their own bodies, to try and explore its possibilities. It is a way of placing the body at the heart of the debate, questioning the pressures to which it is subjected in today’s world.

Aftertalk with Robyn Orlin by Jacq. Algra.

Robyn Orlin

Controversial and provocative choreographer, robyn orlin has continuously pushed the boundaries of performance art and dance in the 20 years that she has been creating work.
although once marginalized by the conservative dance community in South Africa, Orlin's city theatre and dance group currently receives funding from the National Arts Council. This funding facilitates the practical and artistic development of young dancers, giving them ongoing workshops to develop and enhance their performance skills, as well as providing them with new opportunities to market their work.
Orlin has worked in diverse media including television, film, theatre, dance and opera as a choreographer, producer, dancer and teacher. Her work has been recognized in South Africa and abroad through various awards, bursaries and scholarships.

Robyn Orlin works in a rather eclectic way. She works from project to project and invariably tries to find ways of including the community and her audiences into her work. Her point of departure when making a new work is the immediate environment, which acts as a springboard to open up issues around culture, history and identity. The audience will often be found on the stage during a performance and the performers loitering with the audience - she would like everybody to dance and dancers to be able to be everybody!
Robyn now finds herself living part of the year in Berlin (where her husband, Oliver Schmitz, is making films) and Johannesburg or on the road touring with her work.
however, she spends her whole year yearning for her hometown Johannesburg, which is the source of her inspiration and creative drive.


The Jant-Bi Company was created in 1998 with the dancers who had participated in the first workshop at the International Centre for Traditional and Contemporary African Dances, the “Ecole des Sables” in Toubab Dialaw. The Jant-Bi Company keeps in close contact with the Centre, which is at the same time a place of encounters and exchanges for dancers and choreographers from Africa, the African Diaspora and from different cultures from all over the world. In this way each choreographic piece reflects the spirit of the Centre.
Through the contact with a choreographer representing another culture and another dance style, a work of fusion is accomplished between this style and the essence of African dances. Susanne Linke and Germaine Acogny’s first choreographic project, “The rooster is dead”/”Le Coq est mort”, is a encounter between the German dance-theatre and African dance, and the second, co-choreographed by Kota Yamazaki / Japan and Germaine Acogny “Fagaala”, between the Butoh and traditional and contemporary African Dance.
In 2007, Germaine Acogny goes into partnership with her son, Patrick Acogny for the creation of Waxtaan, with some of the most beautiful traditional dances from different African countries transformed into a contemporary creation. Since 2006, the idea of creating a branch of the Jant-bi company with women dancers only was gaining ground in the minds of the directors of the Ecole des Sables.
Since 2009, the Ecole des Sables is working on a training program for Senegalese female dancers which lead to the creation of the Company Jant-Bi Jigeen (Jant-Bi women), with 9 young dancers, 5 coming from the fishing village of Toubab Dialaw.
The first of its kind in Senegal, this company will help women take their rightful place on the contemporary dance scene in Senegal. It will encourage female creativity, the establishment of women choreographers and will contribute to the professionalization of female artists.
The company will spread throughout Senegal, Africa and beyond, the ideas, the questionings and the values with which the Senegalese, African women in particular, and the women in general, are confronted in today’s societies. A way of making sensitive and of questioning about the specific problems of the African women
Afro-Dites / Kaddu Jigeen! was the first creation of the company Jant-Bi Jigeen, a choreography by Germaine Acogny and Patrick Acogny. This is the story of 9 young sharp-eyed senegalese women who speak out and dance their life as well as their view on modern Senegalese society. Creation 2012.

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