Copenhagen, Denmark / https://www.phyllisakinyi.com/
Phyllis Akinyi (1987) is a Danish-Kenyan dancer, choreographer, performance artist,
and anthropologist. She is currently based in Copenhagen, Denmark, to where she returned after many years in Madrid, Spain. While living in Spain Akinyi mastered her skills as a flamenco dancer and worked hard to penetrate the closed flamenco spaces as one of very few black flamenco dancers worldwide, and the only one in Madrid during those years (2014-19). Frustrated by this, she started to investigate the African roots of flamenco and slowly but surely developed a hybrid of ‘Afro-Flamenco’. This led her to start her own dance company ‘Compañía Afromenco’ with which she has created four works of various lengths, all orbiting around the African flamenco roots.
Continuing down that line, Akinyi has developed an artistic practice that investigates the ‘betwixt and between’, more specifically; intersections between movement, culture and identity, and has developed a dance practice combining contemporary dance with folkloric traditions. Her choreographic focus is on the polycentric and polyrhythmic body in correlation with anthropological research of identities caught in cultural ‘in betweens’. She works with different media including live performance, video works and site specific works, and is in the planning phase of a major trilogy work on Spirituality, Memory and Cosmology, which will include different media, Diaspora identities, and decolonial aesthetics.
Wanting the Scandinavian art scene to evolve, expand, and to be more including, Akinyi is actively trying to change the narrative on what’s considered contemporary performance art, and to open doors for more visibility for BIPoC artists. She has been part of a work group investigating the lack of diversity in the Nordic art scene, has sat on panels regarding the topic, taken up discussions of racism in arts institutions publicly, and is now the chairperson of Independent Choreographers Denmark (De Frie Koreografer). The attempt to create dialogue and change is not only regarding racial representation but also which styles are considered artistic within the dance scene. Akinyi is actively fighting for tradition, ritual, and community building styles to be incorporated on visible stages, and for non Western dance styles to be taken seriously, and thereby also funded.
Akinyi is the initiator, curator and choreographer of Flamencópolis CPH; an experimental flamenco performance platform at in Copenhagen, and currently working in different interdisciplinary collaborations. She is also developing The Third Culture Kid Collective, which is a community creating platform for multicultural artists in Scandinavia.