Sankofa Danzafro, “The City of Others” promo
Furia – Danza Colombia en Escena, subtitles in English soon to come
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“The evening’s revelation was Sankofa’s “La Ciudad de los Otros” (“The City of Others”), an episodic work about urban struggle and resilience combining elementsof hip-hop and Afro-Colombian dance.”
Siobhan Burke, The New York Times
“Director Rafael Palacios’ “La Ciudad de los Otros” (“The City of Others”) was judicious in form, resonant with meaning, and delivered in dance languages that ran the gamut from diasporic African to Latinised hip-hop”
Apollinaire Scherr, Financial Times
Sankofa Danzafro hails from Colombia, the country with the second largest Afro-descent population found in Latin America. The company’s “The City of Others”, is a work showcasing powerful Afro-Colombian and Afro-contemporary dance with live drumming and singing.
The city in “The City of Others” is populated by people with diverse backgrounds from different places with varying cultures, and different ways to understand the world. These dissimilar people coexist in a limited space, and despite the forward march of progress, the city at times can become a place of discrimination, resulting in hostility and solitude.
“The City of Others” answers this discrimination by denouncing the lack of opportunities for minority communities and others being marginalized by society for wealth, gender, sexual orientation, who, for generations, have suffered social inequity. “The City of Others” demands the city be a place of coexistence; a place for everybody, not only the few.
Accommodating Lie is Rafael Palacios’ latest full-length dance for Sankofa Danzafro, a company of dancers and musicians based in Medellin, Colombia. One hour in length, Accommodating Lies showcases 7 dancers with live music performed by 3 musicians (drums/ native flute, marimba, and voice).
As with many of Palacios’ dances, Accommodating Lie is a powerful call for awareness. Palacios seeks to dismantle stereotypes and beliefs, denouncing the clichés and falsehoods about and around the black body and what it means to be of African descent. Accommodating Lie addresses specifically the sexualization and the “exotic” label western colonizing culture has assigned to black bodies. In a series of emotional solos and duets, the Sankofa dancers embody decades of slavery and overt racism.
Through their performances, Rafael Palacios’ dances for Sankofa Danzafro reaffirm the need for self-representation of Afro-descendant communities, rewriting history from the perspective of colonized Colombians. He utilizes a catwalk to provide a parade of black bodies on display. The staging includes an interactive auction with the musicians and the audience – a direct reference to slavery and human trafficking. The set design includes a wall hung upstage of straw ropes – the kind used in the creation of the (stereotypical) straw skirts worn by Afro-Colombian slaves. The dancers emerge from within this wall, and they too wear straw skirts in parts of the dance.
Fecha Limite (Expiration Date) is a portrait of the daily struggle of the Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities and their fight to maintain and rebuild their traditions and their legacy in a society shaped by epistemicide and forgetfulness.
Expiration Date is a 60 minutes Afro-contemporary dance work by Rafael Palacios performed by 8 dancers, 4 live musicians with a set and costumes that include masks made with bullets and chains.
We dance, more than to be seen, to be heard!
“Sankofa”, meaning, “to return to the root”, is more than a word, it’s an African philosophy that proposes that the past is a keyhole through which to view the present, and to be able to consider the future. This thought has guided the Afro-Colombian Sankofa Danzafro, founded by Rafael Palacios in 1997, as a space dedicated to training and creation in dance.
Through various pedagogical projects and creative works, the Sankofa Danzafro has sought to build a bridge between Afro-Colombian peoples and the African continent. The company uses Afro-Colombian’s ancestral roots in the creation of works, which results in work that begin with the root of African dance yet develop through the framework of the daily, traditional, and contemporary. Sankofa’s works are a combination of poetic dance built on the ideas of social bonding, personal growth and the positioning of local cultures in the national dynamics.
The company has performed in Brazil, France, Peru, Spain, Jamaica, Burkina Faso, Canada, Uruguay, China and the United States and has been awarded with the 2008 National Dance Award by the Ministry of Culture of Colombia for the work “San Pacho…Blessed!”. The company also received mention from United Nations for its “Good practice of Afro-descendant social inclusion in Latin America 2010”, for the company’s project “Steps in the Earth.” “Steps in the Earth” was developed with the dance communities in the Pacific regions of Chocó, Urabá, and San Andrés and Providencia islands, in agreement with the 2008-2016 of the Ministry of Culture programs “Training for Trainers” and “Danza Viva”.
Choreographer and Colombian dancer dedicated to the exploration of Afro-traditional, contemporary and urban dance languages. His experience as a dancer in Africa and Europe has been the basis for the foundation of the Sankofa Company, with which he has created a wide repertoire of works that have been presented in Colombia and other countries such as Jamaica, France, Spain, Canada, Brazil, Burkina Faso. He has developed training processes aimed at teachers and dancers as well as seedlings of young people and children. National Councilor of Dance and Counselor of Black Communities (2009-2011). Master teacher of the Training Program for Trainers of the Ministry of Culture in the Pacific region 2007- 2013. Palacios received the National Dance Award of the Ministry of Culture 2008, with the work San Pacho … Blessed !; In 2009, he held an internship with the Company in Burkina Faso, Africa. Director of the project Steps in the Earth that in 2010 receives the recognition of the UN as Good Practice of Afrodescendent Social Inclusion in Latin America. He is invited as artistic director for the Colombian dance show held in the framework of the Summit of the Americas Cartagena 2012. Choreographer for the production of the 2013 Cali World Games.