Ayikodans – a name derived from the Haitian Creole word for Haiti, “Ayiti,” and Kontredans, a form of traditional dance inherited from Haiti's colonial past.
Ayikodans was founded in Port-au-Prince, Haiti by choreographer, dancer and educator Jeanguy Saintus. It is also considered the premiere professional dance company of Haiti since being established in 1987.
Jeanguy Saintus also runs a dance center and training program called Artcho Danse for children and adults in Port-au-Prince that aims to foster new Haitian talent. The school is supported in part by FOKAL (La Fondation Connaissance et Liberté/Fondasyon Konesans Ak Libète), an independent foundation in Haiti supported by the Open Society Institute and other international and local organizations.
Saintus researches and produces a new performance every year, continually pushing the limits of modern dance. Folk performance, free improvisation, voodoo religious culture and varied African, indigenous Indian and French influences can be found in his work. He has enabled the emergence of a new, contemporary Haitian aesthetic that, while rooted in tradition, reflects a modern Caribbean culture and creativity that would surprise many who associate the country with disaster, poverty and helplessness.
Ayikodans company members have danced on stages in Latin America, Europe, the United States and Asia, performing at such venues as Palacio de Bellas Artes in the Dominican Republic, The Netherlands’ Tropentheater, The Foundation Tokyo Ballet in Japan, Rose Hall in Jamaica and Teatro Anayansi in Panama. Ayikodans appeared with the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts in Miami in 2000 and performed at the African-American Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale in 2003. Saintus also organizes cultural exchanges, invites guest artists to Ayikodans, and has conducted teaching workshops in The Netherlands, Japan, Cuba, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Dominican Republic, French Guyana, Canada and Jamaica.
Visionary choreographer, dancer and educator, Jeanguy Saintus expresses the rich fusion of Caribbean culture and the contemporary life of his country through the body. He studied anthropology, sociology and languages; Haitian traditional dance, classical , modern and contemporary technique . Founded Cie Ayikodans, a group that has matured over 20 years, establishing a centre and training programme.
Researching and producing a new performance every year, Saintus continuously pushes the limits of modern dance. Folk performance, free improvisation, voodoo religious culture and varied African, indigenous Indian and French influences can be found in his work and his Haitian-Contemporary technique offers a unique vocabulary. Saintus’ experimentation has significantly developed Caribbean dance, rooting it in the region’s historical experience while exploring subjects such as the experience of people dying of Aids, the long journey to freedom, and tensions between ancestral forces and contemporary rituals.
To expand local possibilities, Saintus runs an annual workshop for talented youngsters unable to afford tuition, organizes cultural exchanges, invites guest artists to Ayikodans, teaches in The Netherlands, Japan, Cuba, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Dominican Republic, French Guyana, Canada, Jamaica, United States and works internationally.
Jeanguy Saintus was a recipient of a Prince Klaus Awards in 2008. He was awarded for his exciting contemporary work that connects the spiritual and the physical and honours the human body, for expanding the possibilities of the dance medium and fostering young talent, and for inspiring pride in the strength, beauty and richness of Haitian identity.
As Haiti’s unofficial ambassador of dance, Saintus runs an ongoing dance training program, “Dance Barefoot,” in Haiti for youngsters unable to afford tuition. He often takes on the responsibility of feeding and housing these talented students. One of his students that came out of this “Dance Barefoot” program is Vitolio Jeune, who went on to attend New World School of the Arts in Miami on a scholarship. Jeune also appeared on the hit FOX TV show So You Think You Can Dance in 2009 and is now a professional dancer with Garth Fagan Dance in Rochester, N.Y., one of the leading modern dance