Known for her inspiring teaching and exhilarating performance, Jacky Essombe brings the cultural traditions of Western and Central Africa to Discover Dance! on May 16. The Dance Centre sat down with Jacky to discover more about her, her work and what she hopes to share with her audiences.
TDC: Who is Jacky Essombe in a sentence?
JE: A messenger for the joy and healing wisdom of Africa.
TDC: Tell us a bit about the work you do.
JE: I love to share my culture in a way that heals, empowers and educates. There are many misconceptions about Africa, and I want to help my Vancouver community experience the Africa that I know, full of joy and beauty. In my culture, dance is for everybody and it is in rhythms that we get to really know each other and feel the invisible connection that unites us, and it is in the circle of dance that we learn to trust and receive each other. I believe in the healing power of community, and the arts inspire us to unleash it fully.
TDC: What do you hope people take from your classes and performances?
JE: When I teach or perform, my intention is to leave people feeling the Spirit of the Village. I teach how to bring harmony to the human, natural and spiritual community and access joy and experience belonging through rhythm, movement and connection. I believe that the healing message of Africa can help people in the West improve their quality of life. That’s why I always share wisdom teachings, songs, stories, rhythm and dances from my village in Cameroon and beyond. I hope that people leave feeling more grounded, connected and joyful.
TDC: What inspires the work you create?
JE: My love for my heritage and for all people, and my belief in the power of Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a South African word that describes our belief in our connection to one another. Basically, in Ubuntu we say that “we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others and caring for those around us.” I start from this belief, and I create work that communicates with the soul of people and leaves them with a sense of belonging, a feeling that we are all part of the same village and we’re all in this life together. Nobody wins until we all win.
TDC: Tell us about your upcoming Discover Dance! performance
JE: I am particularly excited about this performance because I want to take the audience on a journey across Africa, through movement and rhythms, from western to southern Africa. I am inviting other guest dancers to join me so they can showcase their own dance styles from their own countries of origin, so that we can celebrate the rich diversity of our traditional music and dances. We are all in for a real and rare treat! And you don’t want to miss that.
The Dance Centre presents Discover Dance! Jacky Essombe
May 16, 2019 Noon + 6pm
Scotiabank Dance Centre, 677 Davie St, Vancouver