“Ballet Afro” (provisional title)

Ballet for six dancers
Production 2023
Duration: 60 min – All audiences


Afro dance, a dance style originating from the African continent, is on the rise. Today, it resonates with youth across the world. Sensual, frenzied and founded on a multicultural heritage with deep traditional and urban roots, it instantly reconnects us with the primordial language of the body itself. This piece invites us on a journey of discovery into the world of Afro, soul and rap music, as the bodies of the six Afro dancers reveal the timeless beauty and underlying brutality of the world.

Sheer impotent rage, prayers for ancestors, the reassembly of broken identities and the visceral need to dance out of a refusal to submit: six bodies with convergent paths and issues come together to exorcize their demons. A kind of scenarized ritual that unveils the reality of a continent where life rubs shoulders with death and where sex, dance, music, violence, profit and politics are intricately interwoven. The dancers’ movements contain explicit references to colonization, slavery, the mechanics of cultural and mental domination, military violence and the plundering of natural resources. Through the simplicity of the dance, the bodily presence of the dancers, the symbols and gestures, we are prompted by the choreography to question the power struggles underpinning the relations between Africa and the Western world.

After an hour of unadorned explosive dance, a short video exposing the reality of contemporary Africa rounds up our discovery of an often-distanced reality. Against an unbiased neutral backdrop of alternating images of brutality and tenderness, the dancers come forward and hold themselves in front of us before quitting the stage, leaving us to formulate our own answers to a fundamental question: when the most basic human rights are violated in some parts of the world, how, even at a distance, do we bear the consequences?

Dossier de présentation du spectacle sur demande.

Genesis

“I became acquainted with the Democratic Republic of Congo while working with the choreographer Faustin Linyekula in 2003 on his show Telle une ombre gravée dans la poussière. I was dancing in the show together with Fabrice Labrana, who will be choreographing this new production with me. In 2004, then again in 2008, Faustin invited me to Kinshasa to train some young urban dancers and showcase my work. At Studios Kabako, which he set up afterwards in Kisangani, Faustin nurtured many young talents, including the choreographer, Yves Mwamba. Yves invited me to give my outsider’s view of his first piece, entitled Voix Intérieures – Manifeste in 2020, and I worked with him to create the autobiographical solo show Hip-Hop Nakupenda in 2021. In 2020, I co-founded Collectif CULTIVéS?, an artists’ collective that questions the link between culture and its different audiences, together with Fabrice Labrana and Didier Boko, two major actors in the fields of cultural transmission, event production and artistic creation in hip-hop dance. Collectif CULTIVéS? develops cultural projects in France, as well as in a network with Africa and the French West Indies. Together, and alongside other artists such as Faustin and Yves, we embarked on an examination of the Western collective imagination, its relationships with traditional cultures and the way in which artists depend upon those conceptions, both in the West and in Africa. The piece sets out to question this collective imagination, to critique some of the basic mechanisms of cultural domination, and to make Afro dance and culture visible to a large audience, in a manner that is respectful of the identity and integrity of the artists.” (Anne Nguyen)

Cast

Artistic direction, dramaturgy: Anne Nguyen
Choreography: Anne Nguyen, Fabrice Labrana aka “Fabbreezy”
Performers: 6 dancers (3 women et 3 men – in progress)
Music: Preexisting musics and original musics (in progress)
Vidéo: Yves Mwamba (a commission by Anne Nguyen)

Partners

The par Terre / Anne Nguyen Dance Company is currently looking for partners for this project.

Coproduction: La Briqueterie – CDCN du Val-de-Marne; L’Auditorium Seynod; Centre de la danse de la Communauté Urbaine Grand Paris Seine & Oise.

The par Terre Dance Company is funded by l’Aide pluriannuelle du Ministère de la Culture / DRAC Île-de-France, la Région Île-de-France for “Permanence Artistique et Culturelle” and l’Aide au fonctionnement du Département du Val-de-Marne. The par Terre / Anne Nguyen Dance Company is an associate artist to Centre culturel l’Imprévu de Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône in 2021/2022, to L’Auditorium Seynod (74) and to Centre d’Art et de Culture de Meudon (92) for 2021/2022 and 2022/2023.