PUMA.Creative at Danse l'Afrique danse!, Bamako, Mali
Day 6, Wednesday, 3 November 2010
This afternoon at the Centre Cultural Français we saw two performances. The first, from Madagascar, was “Fangalapiery”. Choreographed by Ariry Andriamoratsiresy and Gaby Saranouffi of Cies Rary and Vahinala.
Second on the program was Collectif CMDC from Tunisia performing “Insolence”. The energy of this company of young dancers, who define themselves as amateur-professionals, was a refreshing addition to the festival. They are still students and compose their choreography as a collective creating the bulk of the movement and theatrics by themselves with the assistance of a dance professional that guides them through the process.
The piece began with a male soloist piercing the space with his extremities who was later joined by five other male dancers. They later placed microphones on the stage traversing the space one by one to approach a microphone to tell the audience about themselves. Their monologues spoke about what its like to be a dancer—what people say to them and how they are judged. Through their explanations we got to connect to each performer personally. Their responses were often very funny and full of wit. In a structure that lends itself to a dance theater style, each scene was composed of several vignettes that blended in and out of one another in an almost surrealistic way. Movement onto and off the stage was secondary to the execution of a clever image. They were also joined by Selim Ben Safia, who performed his solo as part of the competition at this festival, and who served as their professional guide in the development of this piece.
At the end of the piece each young man came out and did a solo in a style of their choice. It was here we got to see the versatility, and virtuosity, of each performer. Most were proficient break-dancers, others did folkloric or popular dance, in addition to more traditional modern dance. We commend director Syhem Belkhodja, for making an investment in such a talented group of young men. If their creativity and dancing can continue to be nourished and encouraged in this way, we will be seeing amazing things from them in the future.
All week everyone was talking about “Beautiful Me” so it was with great excitement that we headed over to the Palais de la Culture. Gregory Maqoma’s autobiographical solo “Beautiful Me” is a collaboration between the South African artist and choreographers Akram Khan, Faustin Kinyekula and Vincent Mantsoe. Thickly laden with socio-political symbolism, Gregory related these themes to his own personal identity struggle. Accompanied by four musicians, Gregory served as his own accompaniment as well. Dancing in a sophisticated syncopated fashion, his striking of the floor created layer upon layer of rhythmic structure that often built with suspense. His reserve and grace further made the moments of speed and frenzy more arresting. Maqoma’s relentless physicality and finesse combine tradition and contemporary language into a self-portrait that is poignant and fierce. We were not let down, a truly extraordinary artist!