“The mentoring year helped me create my own language, and since then I’ve fine-tuned it,” declares Togolese dancer Anani Dodji Sanouvi.
Planning an experimental, multidisciplinary studio in Togo and developing his contemporary African dance method (“the Legs of the Chameleon”) are the direct result of Sanouvi's year in Brussels in 2007 as the protégé of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.
His creative process, which combines contemporary Western dance with an African identity, sparked the interest of the Dutch Doen Foundation that promotes sustainable projects in the arts. Following an invitation to a meeting in Dakar, in Senegal, Sanouvi devised his plan for an experimental dance centre in Togo. The centre, named “The Tools of Wisdom”, will be a space for research and reflection on how to innovate and create contemporary work, while strengthening the identity and traditional ways of his native country. “I have a dream,” he says. “I don’t want to see Togolese young people becoming too westernized.”
Sanouvi has lived, since 2008, in Amsterdam, where he set up his dance company, Maahhoum, which divides its time between the Netherlands and Senegal. In April 2011, he ran a contemporary dance course with choreographers from France, the Netherlands, Belgium and the Czech Republic, and, in July, he performed a duet at Amsterdam’s Julidans festival with Miri Lee, a female dancer from South Korea.
Sanouvi’s research work on the media and dance, which he began in 2009 with visual artist Christiane da Cunha, is continuing. He spent January and February 2011 in Brazil to create a performance that was produced by Dansmakers Amsterdam and presented at the Brazil-Amsterdam festival in October. Sanouvi still teaches dance to both professionals and non-professionals, as well as to children, at workshops in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.