Phyllis Akinyi is a Danish/Kenyan choreographer and dancer with a dual base in Madrid and Copenhagen.
Although growing up in the modern/contemporary danceworld, she has spent the last 14 years in the universe of flamenco and her choreographic practice always works around a flamenco base even though it investigates different notions of movement simultaneously. Akinyi experiments more and more with her performances, but the love and respect for traditional flamenco is ever present, and you can still catch her doing traditional flamenco performances.
Akinyi also works a lot with film as an artistic expression, usually related to some choreographic piece of hers.
Nyar kakan- i contain multitudes
Nyar Kakan - I Contain Multitudes is Akinyi’s latest work. It focuses on the embodied experiences of a multicultural body, and combines East African ritual dance, Scandinavian post-modern dance, and flamenco in one.
Performing on stage alongside Akinyi, is Swedish percussionist Stephan Jarl who has also co-developed the musical aspect of the performance.
Nyar Kakan - I Contain Multitudes premiered on January 25th 2019 at Bådteatret in Copenhagen.
site specific performances
These performances are improvised and take place mainly outdoors. Each one unique with a specific focus on the surroundings.
The latest serie took place in South East Portugal (2018) where Akinyi performed in three different spaces; one in a marble quarry, one in a field, and one in a castle - using the site specific sounds and only adding flamenco percussion using her shoes.
Akinyi will return to Portugal on June 6th 2019 to perform a 30 minutes performance in the city of Évora in a collaboration with Stephan Jarl(SE) and Rob Monaghan(IE).
flamenco45//Flamenco sin Fronteras
Flamenco45 is a ’tablao’-style performance in the heart of Madrid that features Akinyi alongside a flamenco ensemble and offers the audience an intimate flamenco experience. It focuses on traditional flamenco while adding a modern and at times experimental side to it.
It was launched in February 2017 and is relaunched as Flamenco sin Fronteras as of April 2019. Now it will feature different artists at every event, artists not necessarily from the flamenco world - which broadens the expression on stage.
First show is on April 28th and is a traditional flamenco show but featuring artists from all over the world. Tickets can be purchased here
Later this season we’ll have a flamenco+tap show, a funky flamenco show, and quite possibly an all female flamenco show.
Bio - Recent years
2018 - Maasai Dance Education, Maasai Mara Kenya
2016-2017 - Further Flamenco studies (professionalization) at Academía de Baile Flamenco Amor de Dios, Madrid
2012-2016 - BA Anthropology at Copenhagen University
2011-12 - Dance Education Flamenco (formación de baile flamenco) at Centro de Flamenco Berlin and Centro de Flamenco Sevilla
2007, 2009-10 - Dance Education Flamenco at Academía de Baile Flamenco Amor de Dios, Madrid
Projects/performances recent years
Akinyi’s latest work ‘Nyar Kakan - I Contain Multitudes’ is a semi-autobiographic performance that investigates her African and Scandinavian roots through dance, rhythm, soundscapes and visuals. It premiered in January at Bådteatret, Copenhagen and will make its way to Madrid and Nairobi later in 2019.
Spring/Summer is full of cross-over projects, which includes a feature as main dancer in a music video for the artist Brother CJ (USA), a performance piece interpreting the written words of refugee and migrant women in Madrid (a collaboration with Austrian PhD Scholar Sabine Hattinger-Allende), a performance in Evora, Portugal, at the opening of an exhibition featuring video performance works made by Akinyi alongside Irish visual artist Rob Monaghan. Akinyi will also be performing traditional flamenco in Madrid, Frankfurt, and Oslo, and teach a series of flamenco masterclasses in Copenhagen.
Furthermore she has been chosen as a representative for Danish multicultural artists by the Danish Artist Counsil, and will be partaking in summits with other Scandinavian artists with multicultural backgrounds in Copenhagen and in Reykjavik during 2019.
A year of change.
Leaving the traditional flamenco scene and investigating the intersection of tradition and the contemporary, and moving towards an own expression - a kind of Afro-folkloric futurism.
This involved dance studies in Kenya with the Maasai tribe and Kenyan contemporary choreographer Fernando Anuang’a, a three-week residency at OBRAS Art in Portugal focusing on performance art and a collaboration with Irish visual artist Rob Monaghan, and the development of FlamencAfrica; a flamenco show with African musicians at different venues in Madrid.
Akinyi also formed a duo with Swedish percussionist Stephan Jarl, with whom she performed in Madrid, Frankfurt, Boston, Malmö, and Stockholm.
Autumn 2018 focused on developing the performance piece ‘Nyar Kakan - l Contain Multitudes’ partly in Copenhagen and partly in Madrid, with a showcase of the work in progress in Stockholm at Pygméteatern.
A year full of flamenco.
Akinyi spent 2017 in Madrid furthering her flamenco studies with internationally renowned artists such as Olga Pericet, Concha Jareño, Marco Flores, Alfonso Losa and Manuel Reyes.
She also founded her own flamenco group with musicians from Madrid, and was the dancer and artistic director of the performance project named Flamenco45 - a series of shows in Madrid where they experimented with traditional flamenco. Flamenco45 will return to Madrid in 2019.
Other performances included the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, Flamenco festival in Lund - Sweden, Afro-Spanish festival ‘Kwaanza’ in Madrid, a music video dance feature for artist Anna Sharifi in Berlin, and several shows and masterclasses in Copenhagen.
With all the refugees arriving by boat in Southern Europe, and especially Greece, there was a need for action. Akinyi hosted a solidarity concert in Copenhagen with 20 flamenco artist called ‘Flamenco without Borders’. She then went to the Greek island Chios with fellow Danish choreographer Xiri Tara Noir and Syrian refugee Mohammed Nour (living in Greece already), where they spent weeks in the different refugee camps trying to rehumanize the people through conversation and movement - in particular dancing with the children of the camps every day. Akinyi and Noir made a podcast that aired on Danish National Radio - Radio 24/7 for the Danish population to get an inside view on what was going on at the time.
This was also the year where she completed her BA in Anthropology - a BA in which she focused on fieldwork, in particular amongst foreign flamenco artists in Seville, as well as Nigerian male migrants collecting bottles in Copenhagen. Both of which she also produced ethnographic films about.
Akinyi, of course, continued dancing mainly performing in Copenhagen and Madrid, as well as doing a special video feature in collaboration with photographer Emilia Therese, DK, for Canon Nordic.
Venturing onto the Spanish flamenco scene.
Akinyi started the year with her first solo performance in Seville, Spain as a flamenco dancer. She then went on to tour with the British flamenco dance company Dot Dot Dot as their stage and road manager. While in London she performed alongside Olga Pericet during the Flamenco Festival at Sadler’s Wells. Returning to Madrid she focused on studying with flamenco maestros and landed her first Madrid flamenco job, as the house flamenco dancer at Sala Juglar. This was also the year Akinyi started teaching flamenco workshops in Copenhagen.