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Interview Serge Aimé Coulibaly


Serge Aimé Coulibaly talking in his interview about his creativity and inspirations.

Can you introduce yourself?

I’m Serge Aimé Coulibaly, a dancer and choreographer from Burkina Faso. I am currently living in Belgium and working in Africa, Europe and Australia. I’m also the artistic director of Faso Danse Theatre and ANKATA (The international laboratory of performing art in Bobo-Dioulasso).

What role did theatre/dance play in your life when you grew up? What is the role of dance in Burkina Faso?

When I grew up, dance and theatre didn’t play a specific role in my life, but of course music and dance make up a large part of life in Burkina Faso. They are a part of most social events.  And I could see a lot of dance and theatre on TV. I came into contact with dance and theatre at school at the end of every year, when we did artistic activities. We danced mostly to the music of Madonna and Michael Jackson.
My artistic experience in Burkina Faso came from the Company Feeren which I joined for eight years. Feeren was the first professional theatre company in West-Africa, and we created theatre, dance and music six days a week for eleven months a year.

What drives you to be creative?

That is a complex question. Creation has been part of my life for 25 years.
I guess I wanted to express myself, with all my being, and share some vision and some emotions with people around me. But certainly, for the last ten years I have wanted to have an impact on society with my art. I believe art has a strong influence on our subconscious, and can help to act positively in life.

What is your opinion on the social relevance of theatre and dance?

When you come from a country like Burkina Faso, and you are preoccupied with the development of that country, as I am, then you have to use dance and theatre also to help improve  people’s lives.  To open people’s minds, to be more aware of the political situation around you.  I think art in general doesn’t have the same relevance everywhere in the world. It depends on the context you are living in.

Besides being a famous and important musician, Fela Kuti was also a controversial political figure. What is your relation to this political figure?

I think I am especially fascinated by the political figure. It’s really rare to find an artist who is ready to fight to the death for his opinions. Fela’s house was burnt and destroyed many times by the Nigerian government, but he still stood up and fought for his opinions and for the rights for his people. Through his artistic life, you can trace the political history of Nigeria and Africa. He was a true witness of his time. For me that is an artist who is connected with his society and places his art in the service of people.
And that is very important for me, in our countries for example, where everybody wants to stay in their comfort zone and hopes that someone else will help and solve all the problems, so that they will not have to be affected.

What kind of relationship do you aim to build with European audiences?

I don’t have a different aim with European audiences than with African audiences. But the big difference is that people here will often bring all these ideas about Africa, conscious and subconscious, when they first meet Africans or see an African artist. I hope the piece Kalakuta Republik will help broaden their idea of what Africa is. Or what creativity can come from Africa. So that contemporary performances from Africa can begin to be seen in the theatres in Europe. And that will help people come closer to each other with respect.

Do you notice a difference in audience response to Kalakuta Republik between different continents, countries and/or cities?

Not really.  What is important for me when I’m making a performance, is to touch people emotionally, to create a picture that will speak to them on different levels. Share my hopes and dreams. And that is something that can speak to anybody, I think, no matter where you come from. Kalakuta Republik has been received with the same enthusiasm everywhere we play.

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