PUMA.Creative at Danse l'Afrique danse!, Bamako, Mali
Day 2, Saturday, 30 October 2010
The day began with the introduction of the jury who will be selecting the winning soloist and company. Both will be awarded an international tour. In addition the winning company will be awarded a creative grant of 5,000 Euros. This year PUMA.Creative will be awarding the largest prize of the festival. The PUMA.Creative Africa Dance Award valued at 10,000 Euros. There we met with Nigerian choreographer Qudus Onikeku who will be performing his piece “My exile is in my head” tomorrow as part of the competition.
Afterwards we headed to BlonBa, a beautiful intimate theatre in Bamako where we saw performances by Nadia Beugre, Mamela Nyamza and Nelisiwe Xaba.
The company Cie Vigilence opened the evening with “Personne ne reste” choreographed and performed by four local Mali dancers at the Palais de la Culture. Four trouserless males confront the audience with accusations of death and mortality. Floating skeletons projected in the background enforce their insistence that we are all to die. The line between the body beautiful and the body angry become metaphors for the same blurry line between Thanatos and Eros. As the piece ends, a projected slide show of recently deceased world-renowned choreographers Pina Bausch and Merce Cunningham, along with other Mali artists, was a touching homage.
"My sister” began with Fatoumata Diabate quietly entering the space singing a song illuminating herself with a handheld lamp. With movements that pulled from her training in traditional African dance her singing became affected as her movements intensified. The shortness of breath that resulted further enhanced the sentiment of struggle and loss that the piece conveyed.
In “Les cri des chiens” French choreographer Anthony Egea, whose own introduction to dance was through break dancing but who later came to study classical and modern dance, selected a group of breakdancers to develop this work. Often moving as a unit and using their bodies and voices to create a rhythmic soundtrack they deconstructed traditional breaking vocabulary into duets and solos. Set to music that was a stark contrast to the aggressive nature of some of the movement, these solos showed the personal dance history of each performer, whether it be crumping, popping or breaking. Using a bench as their only set piece they leapt, rebounded and propelled their bodies through the space with complete physical intelligence and power.
Also on the program was “Et si Albert Einstein etait danseur?” performed by local Mali dancer Hamadou Sanogo.
In the evening we headed to the Palais de la Culture for “En attendent le touareg”. Choreographed by Kofi Koko and Opiyo Okach and performed with the virtuosic singer Sadio Kouyaté accompanied by Malian musicians, this piece presented the festival audience a shared moment of exploration and improvisation between dancers, musicians and each other. Singer Sadio Kouyaté graced the audience with her powerful voice and presence as the two dancers explored their freedom to be spontaneous with each other in the moment. Also on the program was “Ti chélbé by Kettly Noel”. The scene opened with corrugated iron walls delineating the stage. As the performance unfolded the two dancers dented the set leaving traces of a duet that is as violent as it is tender. The swift movements by Kettly are adorned with arms that ornament the space in which she elegantly manoeuvres. Her partner (Aly Karambé) presents himself with an air of arrogance only to be dominated towards the end by Kettly, whose presence on stage is as strong as her contribution to this festival.