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African Religions and Modern Choreography

Dancer and Choreographer Koffi Kôkô Is New Valeska Gert Visiting Professor at Institute of Theater Studies at Freie Universität during 2014/2015 Fall/Winter Semester / First Lecture on October 14 at Berlin Academy of Arts

№ 348/2014 from Oct 12, 2014

The dancer and choreographer Koffi Kôkô, a native of Benin, is the new Valeska Gert Visiting Professor at the Institute of Theater Studies at Freie Universität during the 2014/2015 fall/winter semester. His first lecture will be given on October 14, 2014, at the Berlin Academy of Arts. Kôkô will offer insights into his current work. The lecture will be public, and there is no charge for admission. During the fall/winter semester Kôkô will develop a performance with students in the master's program in dance studies at Freie Universität Berlin. They will give a public performance on December 14, 2014, in the Academy of Arts.

Koffi Kôkô lives and works in Paris and Benin. On the basis of ritual initiation into the animistic cults of West Africa, Kôkô developed an individual and contemporary language of movement, which he has been presenting internationally in solo and group choreographies since the 1980s. In his method, he focuses on the understanding of movement in the communication between choreographer and dancers. This involves an awareness of the body in dance and the question "Who am I, when I dance?" According to Kôkô, dancers, while they are dancing, explore the space of their own physical bodies as well as the space surrounding their bodies. The dynamics between inner space and outer space invents itself in the possibility of representation of various roles or objects.

Kôkô's dance technique is contemporary choreographic work that has its origins not in the modern dance of European tradition, but rather in West African dances and rituals. "For me, this is not patchwork," says Kôkô. "Both contemporary art and animism are in me. In my religion, I am a high dignitary, but I am also a contemporary choreographer. I am able to draw on different knowledge spaces and move freely in different contexts."

The Valeska Gert Visiting Professorship is organized in collaboration among Freie Universität, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and the Berlin Academy of Arts. Each semester a performing artist or dancer is appointed to this chair. The dialogue between students and artists is intended to yield mutual insights into the respective working methods and to encourage debate on differences, but also intersections between artistic work and academic research.

Times and Venues

Introductory Event / First Lecture

  • Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 7 p.m.
  • Academy of Arts, Hall 3, Hanseatenweg 10, 10557 Berlin; subway station: Hansaplatz (U9)

Final Presenation

  • Sunday, December 14, 2014, 8 p.m.
  • Studio Stage, Academy of Arts, Hanseatenweg 10, 10557 Berlin; subway station: Hansaplatz (U9)

Further Information

Professor Isa Wortelkamp, Institute of Theater Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 30 838-50348; Email: 

Link to Further Information