An Article written by
Lassina Koné
and edited by
John Ellingsworth
18 April 2024
2 mn
© illustration: Marion Jdanoff

The 2023 annual general meeting in Split, Croatia also marked the entry of my organisation, Don Sen Folo, into Circostrada network. This first meeting made me aware of what the network is and the importance of connecting with people from other parts of the world. I come from Mali, a country where the question of community is very present and alive. A community can be imposed, natural, or chosen, which raises questions in artistic practices about how we connect. How do you build ties with others? Encounters and experiences shared with others have forged my professional path as a choreographer, but also my approach as the artistic director of my organisation. Today, I create and present my choreographic work in public space in Africa. I started my work from the observation that my own community was unfamiliar with contemporary dance and that I had a duty, as an artist, to bring it to them. For me, the solution has always been to work with what I have, what I am. In Africa, when you are an artist and want to live from your work, this often implies an uprooting, an exile to Europe. Today, there is an urgent need for artists of the continent to work in Africa and develop a model of work and performance that is in line with their daily lives, cultures and realities. We need a generation who can take up this issue and give themselves the means to create a vision for the future of art in Africa. For this to happen, I think we need to consider community, because art builds unity. This new mode of creation in public spaces can become a new African model. If contemporary creation found its place in each person’s daily life and became an element of the construction of each individual, art would naturally find its place in our society. Our artists would no longer have to go into exile. In Split, I saw the connections that already exist. I saw that no matter where these people are, no matter where they live, together they have a vision. They share a powerful desire to change things by creating new possibilities. Where I come from, cultural life and creation are on every street corner, and seeing that in another country, coming together through an event, through people, really made me think about the vision I have for my own society. It made me want to question it, but also to question the wider world with the members of the network and to collectively bring this world back to life. Circostrada is truly inspiring!

Lassina Kolé is the choreographer and artistic director of Don Sen Folo (Mali), which works on the creation and transmission of choreographic writing in common spaces (outdoor spaces) in Africa.
After training at the Ecole des sables, he founded the Don Sen Folo - LAB in Bancoumana. In 2022, he imagined the "Pirogue du Zémé", a place of residence and a floating stage that would travel the length and breadth of Mali's River Niger to meet people.


John Ellingsworth works as a writer and editor in the cultural field. He has worked on projects and publications for Kulturrådet, IETM – international networkfor contemporary performing arts, Dansehallerne, ELIA – European network for higher arts education, Flanders Department of Culture, Youth and Media, EDN – European Dancehouse Network, and others. He also works as a data analyst and researcher for the cultural mobility network On the Move, recently authoring several reports on digital mobility and environmental sustainability in the context of cross-border collaboration.