A ballet for six Afro dancers Production March 2023 – Duration: 60 min – All audiences
© Cédric Azerot
Afro dance, a buoyant and flourishing dance style originating from the African continent, resonates with today’s youth across the world. Sensual, frenzied and founded on a multicultural heritage with deep traditional and urban roots, it connects us with the primordial language of the body itself. Matière(s) première(s) is an initiatory trip into the world of African urban music, where the subtle, explosive dance of six Afro dancers reveals the timeless beauty and underlying brutality of the world. From sheer impotent rage to prayers for ancestors, from the reassembly of broken identities to 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 of the gestures, we are prompted by the choreography to question the power struggles underpinning the relations between Africa and the Western world.
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. 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 brought up 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. Patron of association Fondament’All, directed by Didier Boko, I take part in co-development initiatives in the domains of culture and education, in working-class neighborhoods in Champigny-sur-Marne as well as in the village of Kamaté in Benin, where several projects designed to communicate the values of traditional cultures and to increase local autonomy are ongoing.
Those different experiences have led me to develop a reflection on 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. My 2023 production Matière(s) première(s) 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)