About Kofago Dance Ensemble

The Name

The word KOFAGO is a blend of two West African deities, Sankofa from Ghana and Shango from  Nigeria.

Sankofa is a word in the Twi language of Ghana that translates to “Go back and get it”. It and also refers to the Asante Adinkra Symbol represented either with a stylized heart shape or by a bird with its head turned backwards while its feet face forward carrying a precious egg in its mouth. Sankofa is often associated with the proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi,” which translates as: “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.”

Shango’s history has traveled across the world over centuries and continents, from the Yoruba people of Nigeria and Benin. Also known as Chango, Sango or Xango, this African deity was elevated to an Orisha after his death. The fourth king of the Yoruba Oyo Empire, he is the god of thunder, drumming, dancing, fire and male virility. Known for his love of partying, Shango has a ritual dance named after him. He is a master at the drums and the rumble of the thunder reminds us of his rhythmic sounds.

It is with the blending of these two energies that Kofago Dance Ensembles gets it’s name. Our work is rooted in traditional African culture and ritual that is used to promote healing among our dancers, musicians and our audience.

History

Founded in 2015, Kofago Dance Ensemble began as a social justice project, highlighting police brutality against African American men.  The first version of the company operated as an all male company that provided dance training in traditional West African dance technique from Senegal.

 

The company’s first performance was at the CityDance School and Conservatory (MD, USA) with the Organization of Umfundalai Teachers “Dancing Our Africa!” performance. Our piece, entitled “NAGNOU FECC – The Men Must Dance“.

 

Nagnou Fecc is the Wolof words for “Men Dance”. In this world where male normalcy and manhood is defined by popular culture, we were looking to re-define what manhood is through the usage of traditional west African dance technique emanating from the country of Senegal. Nagnou Fecc  also served as an artistic protest to the increased and rampant assault on the black male identity.

 

Kevin would relocated to New York to attend New York University, receiving a graduate degree in Dance Education. It was during that time that he began teaching in the New York City area.  Kevin felt the need to bring back Kofago, but this time, it would be a dance company that dealt with both social justice issues and the need for healing through the performing arts.

 

In its latest incarnation Kofago’s first piece was entitled Daughters of the Moon (2018), which would serve as the counter balance to the original NAGNOU FECC choreography. Daughters of the Moon tells the story of several young women who have dealt with multiple forms of domestic abuse and sexual assault living within the era of the #METOO movement.

 

Kofago’s dance repertoire pulls heavily from Kevin’s 17 years of West African dance experience. The company’s work is steeped in traditions from Mali, Senegal and Guinea, but is focused on ritual and community healing through the performing arts.