OMAR SENE


DANCE ARTIST




Community, Empathy, Love, Equality. These words are becoming more and more familiar, and in ROOM you will see examples of these again and again.  As part of this platform we issued an open call and OMAR SENE is our selected artist from this process.  His life is dedicated to dance and to educating the people, particularly the youth, in his local neighbourhood Dalifort, Senegal, which Omar tells us can be a challenging place to live. 


At a glance Omar's output is more than impressive. With the help of two different translaters we got a bit closer and are moved and inspired by his life and work.  What you hear in the film that Omar made for ROOM is only some of what he has to say. We invite you to listen to this inspiring artist, a man pursuing his passion and calling on his community to join him.  We’re very glad he reached out to be part of this platform and we're delighted to give Omar Sene ROOM.


Our own instincts led us to this point - using our online space to make ROOM for others who have made ROOM for others. It’s a double dive into what is possible when we dance, move and come together, when we meet each other honestly in an intimate exchange that connects us with the source of ourselves, with nature and each other.  Dance is a way of being in community, of growing in knowledge, collaborating and moving forward.  Omar Sene's dance practice is an impeccable example of these values, and how they can be used as an intelligent and forceful repsonse to effect social change. 


BIOGRAPHY



Omar Sene was born on July 14, 1984 in Dalifort Dakar Senegal.  He comes from a family of ten children and they lost their father when he was two years old.  He dropped out of school at an early age and went from one job to another for some time after this.  From his early teens he was drawn to hanging out with local artists in his neighborhood, and it was then that he experienced his first steps of traditional dance, in 1998.

 

In 2001, he began to look for other dance techniques, with his brother (Papa Sy), founder of the Pasytef company and founding member of the 5th dimension company. During this time Omar worked in the traditional dance group, Kassu-may of Dalifort and his Pasytef company (currently Company Om'Art Scéne) became the first company and school of contemporary dance in the suburbs of Dakar. This school allows young people to learn the crafts of the performing arts. It was in this school that Omar experienced his first classes in dance, theatre, poetry, songs, rhythm, classical, modern and contemporary dance. In 2011, Papa Sy, gave him the management of the company and he became its choreographer.


Since 2004, Omar is a full member of the 5th Dimension company, under the direction of Jean Tamba, co-founder of the company. Despite his young age, he already participated in several choreographic creations in Senegal and abroad in many festivals.


In 2009 Omar worked at the Talibou Dabo Centre in Dakar, facilitating sessions for children living with mental illness. Through movement and rhythm, he explored other possibilities for expression with these groups. He also offers regular classes to young inmates at the Ford B prison in Dakar.

Omar is a founding member and teacher of the first dance academy in Senegal, Alvin Ailey, based at the Blaise Senghor Cultural Center.  Today its mission is to train young people across Senegal and the world. He continues his research to deepen his own dance technique named Zagala, which is a spirit of life, a resistance to life. He is constantly learning to evolve and explore other choreographic techniques and dances, through Company Om'Art Scene.

Film: Omar Sene, Adou Khadre Diouf | Edit: Stace Gill | Interview: Jo Minhinnett | Translators: Sebastién Dorélas, and Pierre Schollier


ROOM REFLECTION




Words by Omar Sene


A healthy community is a community that is aware of what is happening, that learns from the past and takes note of things. A healthy community is a community that is in action and works to find solutions. A healthy community is one that thinks positively and cares about the future. It's about being visionary.


The notion of transmission is important to build the world of tomorrow with a strong and conscious youth. And it is with an empathetic and solid education that a healthy community is built. Creating a community is a task that is not accomplished. Because we are all different and we each have different levels of understanding. It starts with solidarity, tolerance, benevolence. Create a community that works together, for the same cause with the same mindset. We must get everyone involved. It's a real commitment.


My role as an artist is universal. My message is for everyone.


Through the movement of my body I create the imagination, I invite a journey through time, through the universes.


But I also have a strong message. I am the voice of the people to denounce the living conditions of the community and propose solutions, positive messages. In short, my role as an artist is to protect, alert, denounce, travel, create novelty.


It is a commitment to oneself but above all to the world.

CHOREOGRAPHY 


THE SILENCE OF SPIRITS



In today's global pandemic, it is more necessary than ever to think about how to heal wounds in order to evolve in the future world. The silence of spirits is a reflection on how to heal this world of tomorrow.


With the rapid advance of new technologies, the world will be faster and more dangerous also because wealth will be concentrated in the hands of a few people. In addition, the poverty rate will increase for some countries and all this will lead to even more individuality. To avoid all this, we must listen to the spirits that remind us that there is another possible world. We must return to our roots, to the heritages of our ancestors, our referents, who remind us that we are all the same. Differences between peoples, genders and cultures enrich us. No one is better or superior, we need diversity to be in harmony. To achieve this harmony, we must leave behind the politics of politicians, the nation-states created in the offices. We need to focus on the human being, to listen to what the street is telling us, the rebellious voices that are being heard all over the world. Gradually they will mingle until they harmonize the energy of the world.


This creation is an ongoing creation, which the context created by COVID19 has interrupted. Because of this pandemic all events planned until autumn 2020 have been cancelled, as have the shows and workshops. This implies that the completion of this creation has been postponed due to the need to ensure subsistence through other activities. But it is precisely the current context that shows the need to use dance more than ever as a means of communication with society at the global level and to reflect on the world of tomorrow.


Choreography and Performance: Omar Sene

Music: Muhmood

The following words are extracts from our conversation with Omar. 


Interviewed by: Jo Minhinnett

Translated by: Sebastién Dorélas


I grew up in the suburb of Dakar and the suburb is not like the northamerican version of a suburb. Its more like the ghetto. There are so many challenges growing up in this suburb because there is alot of violence and crime, situations relating to poverty. 


It is a very important mission to take care of the kids that are in the suburbs, especially because the kids here are left on their own. A lot of them drop out of school too early, a lot of them are hanging out on the streets - they don't have jobs and they are not educated. It's important to have dance not only as art in the studios, but also to bring the dance to the streets. There is a need for that. There is a need to teach the kids that there are other ways to channel whatever they need to channel.


There is the education of the home, but also the education of the streets, and they are different things. Dakar has a bad reputation of violence and aggression, so why not help the kids to avoid falling into bad patterns and behaviours by teaching them a skill, teaching them something different?

A lot of young people are not interested in dancing. We are trying to connect with them and bridge the gap, finding other ways to spark their interests in order to help them.


My brother was stabbed and died in the street. I have made it my mission to not let that cycle of violence continue. To teach the kids for instance I made a choreography called “La Rue" [the street]. It is showing all the facets of the streetife. The full title is "La rue est nôtre mirroir" [the street is our mirror]. Once you leave your house and go on to the street you learn somenting new every day. If you dont leave your house you wont learn anything new. It is a very important way of educating and teaching people about things that they don't know about about or are aware of in their world and community. I made another choreography called "La terre" talking about the political realms and the impact of the political world. Through these dances I am trying to teach. I really focus on the importance of staying open minded enough to talk to the young poeople and to connect with them as a way to prevent them from entering a life of crime at a young age. 


I created the festival called Dalifort Dance Festival, this festival takes place in the streets. The reason is so that the Imam, parents and young children in the community can see what is happening, and can see the choreography and can be influenced and realise that dance is not all negative. There is a lot of negativity surrounding the idea of dancing. By having this festival in the street it allows me to communicate and change the perception of people. 


I am aware that I have benefited from my passion of dancing. In my studio there are kids waiting for me to teach them. I have been privileged to have education, to work and travel. At the same time I realise that there are other people out there that dont have the same opportunities that I had. So I want to bring this to them. I want to expand it beyond Dalifort and find ways to connect with the young generation and give them a way to break out of the cycle of poverty and violence in the suburbs. 


My goal is to bring the downtown city to the suburb. In the long run I would like to have a local conservatory of dance. The is a national conservatory of dance but the rules are very strict so the young kids from the street can’t access this. It is very hard for them to get in, to get there. So I would like a local dance conservatory school that would give them the tools and empower them to go to the next level wich is the national conservatory of dance. "

Company Om'Art Scene at Dalifort Dance Festiaval