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African Connections - 1992 -1997

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African dance  European dance -headbangingAfrican Connections documents and celebrates the African roots of contemporary social dancing.  Initiated by  Bill Harpe, it was devised and led by the Blackie.

The result was an exhibition of 24 batiks (12 pairs) illustrating the links between the African and European dances.

Left are photographs of two batiks showing the African dance Yaduyadu from Senegal and the European Headbanging from the 70s.

African Connections was a complex project involving collaborations between African and European dancers, between dancers and textile artists and between dancers and animators.  In addition it involved research into both African and Social dancing.

The resulting Exhibition not only showed the Batiks but these were accompanied by  24 Flick books which showed the movements of the  24 dances. 

How It Worked

The research started by looking at the differences between African and European cultures as expressed in dance.

       African                                            European

Constant repetition                       Constant change

Celebrating the centre                  Celebrating the periphery   

Participation                                 Separation

All ages                                        Youth

Possession                                  Self possession

Anytime                                       Leisure

Holistic togetherness                   Separate development

Any/every body                            The Perfect body

Open air                                        Indoors

Purpose                                        Aesthetic

Positive                                         Negative

Returning to roots                         Staring a new fashion                           (Back to the future)                       (Palace revolution)                       

Part of life                                      "A profession profession and a job"      (a way of life/living)                       (vocation/vacation/career)                   Part of life/living                             apart from life/living 

A social role                                  A profession

For the Community                        For the tourists                                     (paid/unpaid)                                  (Money      

Social expression                          Indivdiual expression     

The next stage was to look at the possible dances and the ways they inter-related.  The work on this was led by Peter Badejo with Louisa Eyo and dancers 'H' Patten, Lorna Anders,  and Marie Agatha.