Sakoba was founded in 1987 by Bode Lawal (dancer and choreographer) and Ola Adeniran (musician and writer). Sakoba is Yoruba for 'new dawn'' or 'new beginnings'. The name reflects the Company's commitment to creating new work in Britain drawing on traditional African sources, developing character and creativity within African dance in the UK and promoting the tradition of story telling theatre.
Sakoba regularly visited the Blackie in the 1990s, however since Bode's untimely death in August 2015 their work is in danger of disappearing. Therefore this entry starts with quotes from Sakoba's own web site. This will hopefully allow readers to place Sakoba within the larger context of Black Dance.
The Company History.
From Sakoba's website:-
Sakoba evolved out of the vision of its Artistic Director, the charismatic dancer and choreographer, Bode Lawal.
As a child growing up in Nigeria, Bode became immersed first in the dance tradition of his tribe and then African national dances and artistic expression. Formed in 1994 by Bode, Sakoba strives to produce innovative and original choreography that combines the many dance styles and influences from around the world that its Director has encountered, while remaining true to his rich African cultural traditions.
When a European dance company visited Lagos, Bode was excited by his discovery of dance traditions. He set himself the task of creating an evolutionary form of African People's Dance, which - like the contemporary African nation - would recognise and interact with the European tradition. In this way his choreography creates an entirely new but traditionally legitimate set of possibilities, still maintaining the central theme of reflecting and commenting on the human condition from an African perspective. Once SAKOBA had become established in Europe, Bode was able to address the final remaining part of his artistic vision, which was to study the American dance tradition in order to extend the work of SAKOBA to include the wider contemporary African diaspora.
The Company's Vision
Sakoba operates on the assumption that the richer the understanding and tolerance amongst cultures within society, the richer, more interesting and relevant art becomes; and art itself is an invaluable means to this end.
The company Mission is expressed through the following statement:
The pursuit of artistic excellence
Freedom of thought and of expression
Freedom from discrimination
It is equally important to bring high quality and standards in art to all arenas, from grassroots to professional level. The organisation is committed to equality and to a pro-active and inclusive approach to equality and diversity which promotes an inclusive culture, values diversity and supports and encourages everyone.
Sakoba's first visit to the Blackie was in May 1990 when they performed Adaniloro (meaning Torture), for two nights and also ran three workshops.
Adaniloro had an African proverb as its subtitle "agbara lo-fi ko'ni'. "He who harms you today, arms you for tomorrow."
The story of Adaniloro concerns an important chief in Kuala Village and the bitter struggle between his two wives for his love and trust.
The epic tale draws on Yoruba culture and society; polygamy and the rivalry between wives, the use of witchcraft, the powerful influence of the village praise singer, and the practice of exile. But the story is ultimately dealing with the universal theme of love and its handmaidens: jealously and mistrust, loyalty and betrayal, reconciliation and forgiveness.
The story was told in vibrant African dance, music and song.
All the above photos are from Adaniloro. We do not have enough information at this time to say what is happening in each photograph. But the photos are in chronological order as the story progesses.
During this visit there were three workshops held in the mornings of the three days residency.
From the paper work at the time the workshops were due to be aimed at young children with others being allowed to watch. However it is clear from the photographs below the age range of the participants was from the very young through teenagers to adults.
Above photographs of the workshops being led by Bode and members of the Company.
Sakoba's second visit took place on 7th to 9th of October 1993. They gave two evening perfomances of Ogun-Ajaya (The Price of Freedom) and 2 day time workshops.
Ogun-Ajaye told the story of a people being drawn out of oppression and regaining its identity. The story draws on the differing cultures and beliefs of the many tribes of Nigeria and tells of the unifying fight against colonialism.
Sadly we don't appear to have any photos of this visit.
Sakoba visited the Blackie in November 1994. They gave two performances of Osaminisasa (Dance Unlimited) and ran one workshop.
This is the total information we have on this visit.
In Autumn 1995 Sakoba made a week long visit to the Blackie. They brought two new pieces of work - 'Yemoja' (The Sea Goddess) and 'Travelling'.
left the sign outside announcing Sakobas visit.
Travelling explores in African dance and music, through the body of the dancer and the rhythms of the drum, a journey; the progress we make through life as we change and mature. We travel in order to achieve, to fulfil ourselves. Travelling was the first fruit of Bode Lawal's 1995 residence in Paris, working with the French African choreographer Elsa Wolliaston (whom Bode refers to as his spiritual Mother) and subsequently with theatre director John Martin in London.
In addition to the performances Bode ran a series of intensive African Dance and Drama workshops. These were aimed at the professional and student dance community and culminated in a dance performance.
Above the workshop participants. Below a very keen audience arrives for the performance.
Below the audience in position
Below the performance - we think this is the performance created during the workshops
Sakoba Group members
We haved a list of Group Members but not a date for when this list was compiled - and the Company certainly changed over the 5 years they visited the Black-e.
Bisi Adigun; Francis Angol; Francesca Bailey; Martin Hanson; Angela Jackman; Henry Nwawyba; Alistair Tembah and of course Bode Lawal.