Germaine Acogny

Germaine Acogny_2012 © Antoine Tempé



Senegalese and French, she participated from 1962 till 1965 at the formation at the Simon Siegel’s school (the director was Ms Marguerite Lamotte) in Paris and received a diploma of physical education and harmonious gymnastics..

Then, she founded her first dance studio in Dakar, 1968. Thanks to the influence of the dances she had inherited from her grandmother, a Yoruba priest, and to her studies of traditional African dances and Occidental dances (classic, modern) in Paris and New York, Germaine Acogny created her own technique of Modern African Dance and is considered as the “mother of Contemporary African dance”

Between 1977 and 1982 she was artistic director of MUDRA AFRIQUE (Dakar), created by Maurice Béjart and the Senegalese president and poet Leopold Sedar Senghor.

In 1980, she writes her first book untitled “African Dance”, edited in three languages.

Once Mudra Afrique had closed, she moved to Brussels to work with Maurice Béjart’s company, she organised international African dance workshops, which showed a great success among the European students. This same experience was repeated in Africa, in Fanghoumé, a small village in Casamance, in the south of Senegal. People from Europe and all over the world travelled to this place.

Germaine Acogny dances, choreographs and teaches on all continents, becoming a real emissary of the African Dance and Culture. Her work and personality is highly respected in Africa and worldwide.

Together with her husband, Helmut Vogt, she sets up in 1985, in Toulouse, France, the “Studio-Ecole-Ballet-Théâtre du 3è Monde”.

After having been away from the stage for several years, Germaine Acogny has her come back as a dancer and choreographer in 1987. She works with Peter Gabriel for a video clip and creates her solo “Sahel”. Other choreographies follow. Her solo “YE’OU”, created in 1988, tours on all continents and wins the “London Contemporary Dance and Performance Award” in 1991.

In 1995, she decides to go back to Senegal, with the aim of creating an International Centre for Traditional and Contemporary African Dances : a meeting point for dancers coming from Africa and from all over the world, a place of professional education for dancers from the whole of Africa with the aim to guide them towards a Contemporary African Dance.

The construction of the Centre – also called « L’Ecole des Sables » – was achieved in June 2004. But already, every year since 1998, three-month professional workshops for African dancers and choreographers are organised. About 30 dancers from all over Africa meet, exchange and work together each time.

In 1997, Germaine Acogny becomes Artistic Director of the « Dance section of Afrique en Creations » in Paris, a function she held until September 2000. During this time, she is responsible for the Contemporary African Dance Competition, important platform for young African choreographers.

In 2005 she is invited as regent at UCLA (University of Los Angeles).

Her solo “Tchouraï”, created in 2001 choreographied by Sophiatou Kossoko, was successfully touring until 2008. She has presented it in France (Theatre de la Ville, Paris), Germany, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Italy, the US (New York, Chicago) and in China (first Contemporary Dance Festival in Shanghai).

In 2003/2004, she created the piece “Fagaala”, for her company JANT-BI, based on the genocide in Rwanda. It is co-choreographed with Kota Yamazaki/Japan for 7 African dancers, a fusion between Butoh and traditional and contemporary African Dances. It had already three very successful tours in the US, and was performed in Europe, Australia (Melbourne Festival, Sydney Opera House) and in Japan.

En 2003/2004, elle créé la pièce “Fagaala” sur le génocide du Rwanda pour sa compagnie JANT-BI.   Il s’agit d’une co-chorégraphie avec Kota Yamazaki (Japon) pour 7 danseurs Africains, une fusion entre le Butoh, la Danse traditionnelle et Contemporaine africaine. La pièce rencontre un très grand succès à travers ses tournées mondiales (Europe, Afrique, Etats Unis, Australie, Japon).

In 2007, she and Kota Yamazaki receive a BESSIE Award (New York Dance and Performance Award) for “Fagaala”.

Later that year, the great challenge was the choreographic part of the OPERA du SAHEL, an important African creation, initiated and produced by the Prince Claus Fund in Holland. It premiered in Bamako in February 2007 followed by performances in Amsterdam and Paris and a first African Tour in 2009.

In 2008, another choreographic work was organised as a collaboration between Jant-Bi company (7 male dancers) and Urban Bush Women company (7 Afro-American female dancers) from New York. This new creation “Les écailles de la mémoire – Scales of memory” was created by her and Jawole Zollar, the artistic director of Urban Bush Women and had a great success during several touring in USA and in Europe.

Her creation, the solo « Songook Yaakaar » had its Premiere at the Biennale de la danse in Lyon in September 2010.

In 2014 the French choreographer Olivier Dubois created a solo piece for Germaine Acogny “« Mon élue noire – Sacre no.2 » based on the original music of “Le Sacre du printemps.”

In 2015 comes out her new solo creation “« A un endroit du début », a collaboration with theatre director Mikael Serre, a creation that combines dance, theater and video. The premier took place at the Grand Theatre de la Ville du Luxembourg in June 2015.

She continues to collaborate with international schools and Dance Centers and teaches regulary master classes.

Since January 2015 she submitted the Artistic Direction of the Ecole des Sables to her son Patrick Acogny.



In 1999, Germaine Acogny is decorated as “Pioneer Woman” by the Senegalese Ministry of the Family and the National Solidarity.

Germaine Acogny receives the « Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite », the « Officier des Lettres » and the « Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur » distinctions from the French Republic.

She is also honoured by the Senegalese Rebublic with the « Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Lion » and « Officier des Arts et des Lettres

Germaine Acogny was given in 2004 a special recognition in form of a grant by the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Art, New York.

In 2008, the African Magazine “Jeune Afrique” selects Germaine as part of the 100 personalities who “make” Africa.

In 2009, she receives the « Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres » distinction from the French Republic.

In 2012, she receives the « Commandeur des Arts et Lettres » distinction from the Senegalese Republic.


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