Antoine Tempé | Danseurs D’Afrique

An image that eloquently suggests motion, if done well commands a certain degree of respect for in the static the kinetic is alluded.  Since launching the series Danseurs D’Afrique more than a decade ago, photographer Antoine Tempé has documented up to one hundred luminaries of contemporary dance.

© Antoine Tempé. Fatou Cissé, Senegalese dancer and choreographer, 2006. Courtesy of the artist.


The series shot to date on a Hasselblad in black and white film, is particularly captivating as each dancer is caught in an expressive moment. In each frame and portrait, leaps out a story of individuality, physicality and presence.

© Antoine Tempé. Hardo Ka, Senegalese choreographer and dancer, 2008.


Perhaps it is that Tempé contemplated a career in dance early on, that his passion and affinity for the art form informs his eye. Apart from his photographic acumen, Tempé has succeed to create portraits beyond mere documents; each dancer is captured in performance.

Given his interest in the field, it was natural for Tempé to focus his attentions towards contemporary dance practice in Africa following a one year sojourn spent photographing in West Africa and Madagascar. In 2000 and at the International Choreographic Encounters of Africa and the Indian Ocean held in Antananarivo, Tempé describes being ‘blown away’ by what he saw. He would return to New York, his base at the time, invigorated and keen to build a body of work exploring this space.

© Antoine Tempé. Karine Plantadit, Cameroon/France dancer and actress, New York, 2000.


Dynamic and emotive, characters each emblematic of the theatrical and gestural figuration in contemporary dance are present. That this manifests within each portrait short over more than ten years certainly makes this body of work not only beautiful but cohesive as a series.

Tempé has exhibiting his stellar photographs across the continent and internationally from Antananarivo to Conakry to name but a few.

© Antoine Tempé. Andréya Ouamba, Congolese choreographer and dancer, Paris, 2002.



© Antoine Tempé. Faustin Linyekula, Congolese choreographer and dancer, 2002. 



© Antoine Tempé. Béatrice Kombé Gnapa, Ivorian choreographer and dancer, 2004.



© Antoine Tempé. Adedayo Muslim Liadi, Nigerian choreographer and dancer, 2004.



© Antoine Tempé. Nelisiwe Xaba, South African choreographer and dancer, 2005. 



© Antoine Tempé.. Andréya Ouamba, Congolese choreographer and dancer, Paris, 2002.



© Antoine Tempé. Andréya Ouamba, Congolese choreographer and dancer, Dakar, 2002. 



© Antoine Tempé. Radhouane El Meddeb, Tunisian comedian, choreographer and dancer, Paris, 2006. 



© Antoine Tempé. Ousséni Sako, Burkinabe dancer and choreographer, 2002. 



Beyond portraiture yet within the field of dance, Tempé collaborated with Burkinabe choreographer Salia Sanoue to published the book Afrique, danse contemporaine. Through Sanou’s words and Tempé’s images, the ascent of contemporary dance forms from Africa onto the world stage are related through the personal life story of the choreographer. The French book is available online via Amazon.



Antoine Tempé (b. France) currently lives and works in Dakar, Senegal. Tempé is a photographer, specialized in documenting African contemporary cultural scenes through portraiture and photojournalism. In the 90s, after first contemplating a career in dance, he started taking photographs. Encouraged by regular publications in the French PHOTO and his initial success documenting New York nightlife for European magazines, he began photographing dancers in his studio. He was soon working with Complexions Contemporary Ballet and other New York based dance companies, both on commercial and personal projects, with his photographs appearing in American and European publications. In 2000, Tempé travels throughout West Africa and Madagascar on a one year photographic journey. This and subsequent extended stays on the continent lay the foundation for several bodies of work, among which are ‘Dancers of Africa’ and ‘Faces of Africa‘  and have been exhibited worldwide. He has split his time between Paris, West Africa, Brazil and New York, advancing his personal artistic projects while shooting commercial assignments, covering dance festivals or teaching photography workshops. In 2008, in collaboration with choreographer Salia Sanou, Antoine Tempé published the book Afrique, danse contemporaine (Éditions Cercle d’Art/Centre National de la Danse). | facebook | @antoine_tempe



Written by Missla Libsekal.


All images courtesy of the artist. All rights reserved.

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