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Ganvie is situated on the surface of Lake Nokoué in the South of Benin. The dance group Missimidé de Ganvié performed Atchi (a site-specific dance) to send the message ‘Welcome to the Water’.

Creative Commons LicenseGanvié Video by RUVIVAL Team is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

In the eighteenth century, many Beninese fled the slave raids on the coast to Lake Nokoué. Here, they created a thriving village on the lake. Over time, the residents have formed a communion with the water.

But life is not perfect; the water in Lake Nokoué is saline. Therefore, the residents cannot drink its water. Wells have been drilled around the lake, but they are no longer productive. In order to live, they make long trips on boats to find fresh water and return loaded with containers of potable water. It is quite a paradox: to live on the water, but not have any to drink.

The performance is a play on these boat trips. The dance is an imitation of the daily routine most residents must make just to get clean drinking water.

Creative Commons LicenseAtchi Images by SunRise Films are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Background: Performers of Ganvie, Benin

Missimidé de Ganvié is local dance group, consisting of dancers and musicians. The choreographer, François Gnonlonfoun, is a native of the region. Using the knowledge and experience he has gained living on the lake, he created a powerful performance.

Future Plans

Ganvie is not the only part of the country with water issues. In the North, access to water is becoming more and more difficult. Groundwater tables have lowered, exasperating the problem. In coming years, SunRise Films and Ayéman Aymar Esse plan to organize their future GWD performances in this region of Dassa.