TRANSLATIONS: Cross-artform performances celebrating the diversity of African arts in the UK

TRANSLATIONS: Cross-artform performances celebrating the diversity of African arts in the UK

Africa Beyond is proud to launch an ambitious cross-artform creative experiment between African-influenced artists who are all leading lights in their fields. Translations will feature distinct one-off collaborations, each with disparate artists – Breis, Dele Sosimi, Christina Oshunniyi, Dfiza Benson, Zak Akhimien, Craig Dow, Byron Wallen and Tom Diakité – who have been given free reign to devise a unique performance.

Two of the collaborations will premiere at the newly-opened Bernie Grant Arts Centre (10 November 2007 and 28 January 2008), its namesake’s legacy to creative and culturally diverse talent. All three Translations collaborations will then be performed as part of a finale showcase at the Africa Centre (1 February 2008), a farewell before the Centre is closed for redevelopment. There will be a Q&A about the collaborations at this showcase.

One of the UK’s best hip-hop and rap artists Breis, pioneer of the Afro-beat scene Dele Sosimi, and acclaimed dancer Christina Oshunniyi present their ground-breaking hybrid musical performance. The artists, all of whom are of Yoruba origin, converge and develop their contrasting styles of dance, performance, music and lyrics, to celebrate the commonalities of art that has emerged from a shared Yoruba and Nigerian cultural heritage.

Writer and performer Dfiza Benson, London DJ Zak Akhimien and photographer and visual artist Craig Dow will present their transcendental collaboration which explores how African mythologies travel the world before returning home, transformed through the Diaspora. Words and movement form the core of the story with the rhythmic pulse of Africa punctuating through sound and images. The artists have vast experience of working in live showcase settings and work in an organic way to generate ideas.

(Africa Centre only:) MOBO-nominated jazz artist, trumpeter and celebrated conch player Byron Wallen and multi-instrumentalist, choreographer and lyricist Tom Diakité will present their take on the theme of ‘translation’ through music, song, movement and performance. They will explore how song can be an instructive, narrative device as well as joyful and visceral.

About the artists:

BREIS [breeze] is a rap artist, writer and workshop facilitator whose music is a fusion of, hip-hop, jazz, African and broken beats. He has toured internationally as a solo rap artist with DJ Keith Lawrence and with other renowned world music artists such as Cuban jazz pianist Omar Sosa. He raps in English and incorporates Yoruba and Pidgin English.

Dele Sosimi played extensively with Fela Kuti in the Egypt 80 band, blending funk grooves, Nigerian traditional music, African percussion, jazz horns and other instruments, and rhythmical singing to create the ground-breaking Afro-beat sound. Dele’s band has performed all over the world – at the Montreux Jazz Festival, the South Bank Centre (Queen Elizabeth Hall & Purcell Room), the Soho Jazz Festival and Black President Festival celebrating the work of Fela Kuti at the Barbican Centre in London in October 2004.

Christina Oshunniyi is a professional dancer with a BA Hons in Performing Arts who performs widely around the UK. She works and writes for film and theatre, especially raising awareness of issues that affect women in Africa.

Dzifa Benson is a writer and performer who has performed her poetry, plays and short stories around the UK. Her work has been featured in Tell Tales Volume 1, The National Gallery, The Guardian, the Evening Standard and the Bush Theatre. She uses Ghanaian, African and world creation myths to comment on modern living.

Zak Akhimien is half-Nigerian and half-Romanian and a co-founder of Amplified, one of London’s most respected DJ collectives. With a diverse interest in music, incorporating everything from Classical to hip-hop, African to Indie, he is dedicated to the support and promotion of music not embraced by the mainstream and has performed with Ty, Estelle, Patrick Neate, Anton Phillips and choreographer Sheron Wray.

Craig Dow is a visual artist who uses a mix of photography and moving image projections. He has worked with a range of artists, designers, poets and musicians to create new and exciting forms of expression on a live platform. He has recently been involved in live visual events at the Hayward Gallery and the Royal Festival Hall with the Light Surgeons, onedotzero and Nitin Sawhney.

Byron Wallen is a dynamic and versatile jazz trumpeter who has performed with The Style Council, Talvin Singh, The Roots, Digable Planets, Mica Paris, Desmond Dekker and Chaka Khan, and has toured worldwide with Incognito. He won the BBC prize for Innovation in Jazz in 2003 for his album Indigo, the Langston Hughes commission from the South Bank Centre and his Sacred Circles project featuring the Shell Choir and Cleveland Watkiss. He collaborated with Talvin Singh on his Mercury Prize award-winning album ‘OK’ for Island Records.

Tom Diakité is a multi-instrumentalist and singer who left Mali to join the National Folklore Ensemble of the Ivory Coast. He now lives in France where he has worked with everyone from the Gipsy Kings to Mory Kanté, Salif Keita and Leon Keita all across West Africa and Europe. He plays percussion, kora and mainly the donso n’goni, a variant of the guitar-like n’goni, made in his hometown.

Translations has been brought to life by Africa Beyond and Melanie Abrahams. Africa Beyond is supported by Arts Council England and hosted by Iniva at Rivington Place. Visit the website at Melanie Abrahams is a producer and curator and founder of the independent literature company renaissance one.
Listings Information:

Translations is a celebration of Africa and its languages across art forms. Three exciting collaborations bring together leading artists to showcase the best of African-influenced arts in the UK:

Monday, 28 January 2008, 8pm
Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Town Hall Approach Road, Tottenham Green, London N15 4RX
Telephone: 020 8365 5450
Tickets: £7 (£5 concessions with ID)
An all-Nigerian collaboration with hip-hop artist Breis, Afrobeat pioneer Dele Sosimi and dancer Christina Oshunniyi. Plus African mythology for the 21st century with writer-performer Dzifa Benson, musician Zak Akhimien and visual artist Craig Dow.

Friday, 1 February 2008, 8pm
The Africa Centre, 38 King Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8JT
Telephone: 020 7836 1973
Tickets: £7 (£5 concessions with ID)
Online booking:
Featuring MOBO-nominated jazz artist Byron Wallen with Malian multi-instrumentalist Tom Diakite. Plus hip-hop artist Breis working with Afrobeat pioneer Dele Sosimi and dancer Christina Oshunniyi, as well as writer-performer Dzifa Benson with musician Zak Akhimien and visual artist Craig Dow.

Friday, 1 February 2008, 5:30-pm – 7pm
Lost in Translation?
The Africa Centre, 38 King Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8JT
Free admission but RSVP to as places are limited.
The Translations artists in conversation with Zina Saro-Wiwa, with excerpts from tonight’s performances.

Region: All
Press Tickets: Not Available
Sponsorship: Not Available
Press Tickets:
Name: Ilka Schlockermann
Phone: 07932066624