Afrotopian Synergies

Afrotopian Synergies unites three different forms of expression, three continents and the creative potential of three afrodiasporic generations––an evening to fathom the relationship between spoken word, dance and music. With Dub-Poetry pioneer Lillian Allen from Toronto, musician Claude Gomis together with his band Seeds of Baobab and the dancer duo Tchekpo Dan and Dhélé Agbetou, the artists meet in a dialogue delving deep into the world of intergenerational afrodiasporic knowledge. Their improvisation develops from the works of Lillian Allen.

Poet and professor Lillian Allen has been performing as a spoken word artist since the 1970s. The two-time Juno Award winner never stopped to engage in the fight for equality of Caribbean communities in Canada and has employed her socially committed poetry especially to advocate for Black women throughout the world. Hers is a resilient voice which has supported and accompanied the rise and struggle of the African diaspora in Canada. Allen’s poetry translated into dance by the father-son-duo Tchekpo Dan and Dhélé Agbetou and through the traditions, influencing the two dancers – modern dance, classical dance and hip hop, the cities of Berlin, Dakar, Kingston, Cotonou, New York, Toronto, Bielefeld and Paris, places the artists bridge, oscillate in the music of Claude Gomis and his band Seeds of Baobab, which combines Senegalese traditions, reggae and afro beat. 

Lillian Allen  is a poet, professor and spoken word artist. She was awarded twice the Juno Award for Best Reggae Album of the Year. She received the Community Cultural Champion Award from the City of Toronto and is a professor at OCAD University in Toronto. She was born in Kingston, Jamaica.

The musician and designer  Claude Gomis  played in his early years together with his father Rudy Gomis in the Orchestra Baobab. In addition, he then made a name as a visual artist and designed the stage sets for musicians like Youssou N'Dour or Positive Black Soul. Gomis studied at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Dakar and lives between Berlin and New York.

Tchekpo Dan Agbetou  is a dancer, choreographer and lecturer. He studied dance in Benin, and at Alvin Ailey School and Steps on Broadway in New York. His choreographies combine African dance, modern dance and classical ballet. He is co-founder of the DansArt Center for Dance and Creativity in Bielefeld, where he lives and works.

Dancer and choreographer  Dhélé Agbetou  studied at the DansArt Academy in Bielefeld and the Center de Jazz in Paris, where he now lives. He combines hip hop dance styles with modern dance and ballet influences.