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Ivan Touko takes pride in afro rhythms

Coupé-shifted, kuduro, ndombolo, gwara gwara, so many names of African dances and movements that the dancer Ivan Touko practices. This artist of Cameroonian origin plays with panache both traditional and modern styles. Freshly graduated in sustainable development atUniversity of Alberta, he decides today to devote himself fully to his passion: afrofusion dance.

Salima bouyelli

This talented young man is the penultimate of five siblings: three boys and two girls. At fifteen, Ivan Wielfried Ngandjui Touko left his native Cameroon. Nine years later, he vividly remembers his laborious beginnings in maple country.

“We had made several round trips between Canada and Cameroon to be able to finish my studies,” he explains. The Canadian education system did not allow him to continue in the same grade he had in Cameroon. “I was two years too young for my class, even though I had the necessary skills,” he adds.

Ivan Touko at 13 in the city of Ngaoundéré, Cameroon. Credit: Courtesy

By moving to Canada, the young Cameroonian knew no one and dancing allowed him to get closer to his roots. “Dance, the only way to reconnect with my culture” confides Ivan. Even if he was immersed in music all his life, it was “when I arrived in Canada that the trigger really took place,” he observes.

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Ivan Touko aux couleurs panafricaines du Cameroun lors dune séance photo. Crédit photo   Courtoisie
Ivan Touko in the Pan-African colors of Cameroon during a photo shoot. Credit: Courtesy

Dance in the blood

“Dance has always grown in me through experiences in Cameroon such as family events or elementary dance lessons” the artist is delighted to share. He considers himself lucky, because he has started dancing with the Sangea troupe, mixing traditional West African dances and Tam-Tam. This experience allowed him to learn the basics and foundations of these frenzied rhythms.

Thanks to this passion and innate talent for contemporary African dances, he created his own afrofusion group named Iola. With friends from the University, he performs in and around the city of Edmonton. His classes at The Girandole do not go unnoticed. He gets more involved every day. In 2017, he decided to create his own dance company and workshops, La Connexional, with which he taught afrofusion dance at the University of Alberta.

Programme de cours de danse pause santé pendant les heures de dîner à La Girandole Edmonton. Crédit photo   Courtoisie
Healthy break dance class program, during dinner hours at La Girandole, Edmonton. Credit: Courtesy

The dance workshops that Ivan Touko delivers are modern and traditional African dance movements, sparkling and lively. They represent for him a means of expression and communication, while being therapeutic on the physical and mental level, whatever the age.

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Ivan Touko and his two assistants, the twins Joannie and Joanne. The guitar is a symbol that artists move from show to show in the Visit ‘ARTS digital series. Credit: Screenshot

To vary his style, he will seek his inspiration in countries like Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Congo, Ghana or even Angola. When asked if he wants a career, he replies “it’s a career in my hobby. I want to normalize African dance and it all depends on the opportunities that arise ”.