Voices of Strength

Kettly Noël Originally from Port au Prince, Haiti, choreographer and dancer Kettly Noël has created a body of dance work over the past 15 years, seen widely in Africa and Europe, that deals with identity, and the fight for position of African artists and women, and includes Ti’chelbé, Errance, L’Autre, Zones Humides Imaginaires and Bonjour Madame Noël. She began dancing at the age of 17 with the Haitian-American Dance Theatre (now World Dance Theatre), and relocated to Paris in the early 1990’s, where she trained as a dancer and actress and founded her first company. In 1996, she moved to Benin, where she continued to develop her choreographic technique while starting a program to train youth in contemporary dance. Ms. Noël relocated to Mali in 1999, and founded Donko Seko, an organization with a space for dance workshops and choreographic research (with the first dance floor in Bamako); established the Bamako Dance Festival (the first international festival of contemporary dance in Mali); and expanded her dance training program for youth and adults. In 2010, Donko Seko hosted the biennial Danse L’Afrique danse festival.

Nelisiwe Xaba Nelisiwe Xaba was born and raised in Soweto (South Africa), and received a scholarship to study at the Johannesburg Dance Foundation. After studying dance in London (with a 1996 Ballet Rambert Scholarship), she returned home to join Pact Dance Company, where she was a company member for several years, and with whom she toured to Europe and the Mideast. She worked with a variety of choreographers, visual and theater artists, particularly Robyn Orlin, with whom she created works such as Keep the Home Fires Burning, Down Scaling down, Life after the credits roll, and Daddy I’ve seen this piece six times before and I still don’t know why they’re hurting each other, which toured for several years in Europe and Asia, winning the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance. In 2001, Ms. Xaba began to focus on her own choreographic voice, creating solo and group dance works that have been performed in Africa and Europe, including Dazed and confused, No Strings Attached 1, No Strings Attached 2, Be My Wife (BMW)(commissioned by the Soweto Dance Project), Black!.. White and Plasticization. Her most recent work, Uncles and Angels, is an interactive dance/video collaboration with Mocke J van Veuren. Ms. Xaba has also collaborated as choreographer and dancer with fashion designers, opera productions, music videos, television productions, and multimedia performance projects.

Bouchra Ouizguen Born in Ouarzazate, Morocco, and educated in France, Bouchra Ouizguen was a soloist in oriental dance in Morocco from 1995 to 2000. From 1998 to 2001, she studied and performed in Marrakech and in France, with Bernado Montet, Mathilde Monnier, and Boris Charmatz. In 2002, with Taoufiq Izeddiou and Saïd Ait El Moumen, Ms. Ouizguen founded ANANIA, a contemporary dance company in Marrakech that created the dance festival “On Marche.” She also collaborated that year in forming the Al Mokhtabar contemporary dance company. Ms. Ouizguen’s choreographic works include: AnaOunta (2002); Fina ken’ti (2002); Mort et moi (2005); Déserts, desires with Taoufiq Izeddiou (2006); Aïta with Naïma Sahmoud (2007); and Madame Plaza (2008-2009). They have been presented throughout Morocco and in France, including the prestigious Montpellier Dance Festival. Madame Plaza was presented as part of the 2010 FIAF Crossing the Line Festival in NYC. Since 2007, Ms. Ouizguen has been a co-organizer of the annual festival Recontres Choreographiques of Marrakech. Maria Helena Pinto Maria Helena Pinto is a choreographer, dancer, and teacher in Maputo, Mozambique. Her choreographic works have been selected for presentation at festivals such as Afrique en Création (Madagascar, 2003), Festival Interculturel de Mayotte (2007), Danse l’Afrique danse (Tunisia, 2008), Rencontre de Danse Métisses (French Guyana, 2009), and Kaay Fecc (Senegal, 2009), and include Sombre, Tempestade, O olho e a Percepção (which toured to France and Finland), Noticias (which toured to Italy), and Mar Vermelho (performed in France and South Africa). Her current projects — the group piece, CALA-TE and the solo, The Run of Africa — will premiere in 2012-13. She has taught and choreographed at the National Dance School of Mozambique and Centro de Pesquisa Coreográfica, and has led her own dance school since 2003. In 2006, she co-organized the first International Contemporary Dance Festival in Maputo. She is currently building DANS’ARTES — a new center to host national, pan-African, and international meetings, festivals, performances and exhibitions in Maputo. For her role in creating DANS’ARTES, and her efforts to develop contemporary arts and culture in Mozambique, Ms. Pinto was elected the “2010 Personality of Arts and Culture” by National Radio of Mozambique.

Nadia Beugré Born in Zikisso in Côte d’Ivoire, Nadia Beugré made her first appearances with Dante Theatre in 1995. In 1997, she became a member of the ground-breaking, all-female dance ensemble, Compagnie TchéTché, founded by Béatrice Kombé. She performed with the company for eight years, touring in Africa, Europe and North America. Following Ms. Kombé’s untimely death in 2007, Ms. Beugré began to create her own works. These include un espace vide: moi, performed in Tunis, Burkina Faso, England and France; 120 M/h, a collaboration with choreographers (and childhood friends) Michel Kouakou and Daudet Glazaï, which was developed in the U.S. at Bates Dance Festival and VSA New Mexico/North Fourth Art Center, and premiered in Germany at Dansart Bielefeld 2010 Biennale; and Quartier Libres, which premiered at the 2010 Danse L’Afrique danse festival in Mali. She trained at the Centre Choréographiques in Montpelier, France with Mathilde Monnier; at l’Ecole des Sables in Senegal with Germaine Acogny; and at the Center for Choreographic Development in Burkina Faso with Carolyn Carlson and Burkinabé Bourou Amadou.