Compagnie Kadidi / Dorothée Munyaneza, FRANCE
directed by: Dorothée Munyaneza
The stage as the intersection of the stories and fates of six women. Stories that tell of how we are formed by our past.
The stage as the intersection of the stories and fates of six women. Stories that tell of how we are formed by our past. About our ancestors and their experiences, both good and bad. Suggestive narration through word, wonderful song, breath-taking music and impeccable movement about identity and the places we come from. What and why do we carry within, in our genetic code? Dancer and director Dorothée Munyaneza arrives for her second round at ITF Divadelná Nitra – following up on her 2015 production Samedi Détente that wowed our audience with a testimony about the Rwandan civil war. In Mailles (‘mesh’), she appears with five fascinating female artists of African descent – a Haitan storyteller, British dancer, Danish poet, Dutch philosopher and French choreographer… We have programmed this production in a unique festival format combining a theatrical and filmic experience – as a screening of an exquisite video recording on the big screen of the Andrej Bagar Theatre’s Great Hall.
In her piece Mailles (‘mesh’), Rwandan-British singer Dorothée Munyaneza meets five women. Each lives in a different corner of a globalized world and comes from a mixed cultural background. Each is a member of the African diaspora: a Haitian, a Rwandan, a Somali from Denmark, an Ethiopian living in the Netherlands, and naturalized British. Each creates art and reflects in it the specifics of their cultural identity. Besides Dorothée Munyaneza, the project was co-authored and features story collector and teller Ife Day from Haiti, British-African flamenco dancer Yinka Esi Graves, Danish-Somali poet and multidisciplinary artist Asmaa Jama, Dutch-Ethiopian choreographer and philosopher Elsa Mulder, and Rwandan dancer-choreographer based in France Nido Uwera.
Dorothée Munyaneza binds the women together. While touring her previous projects (e.g., Samedi Détente, programmed during ITF Divadelná Nitra 2015), she met a rich variety of artists; after years of solo performance, she now felt the need to surround herself on stage with women that have, in one way or another, inspired her. She felt compelled to create an artwork transcending her own ideas and possibilities. Once again, her starting point was autobiographical, and creative work fed from collective improvisations. Each artist responded with her own words, voice, body or song, joining hands to seek the final form of the individual scenes and artwork as a whole. The latter is best described as a performance relying on the techniques of diverse artforms and genres. Spoken word alternates with dance, music or sound complements scenic action, physical solos seamlessly flow into choral declamations or singing. The effect of total theatre is to transgress personal experience into celebratory and liberative collective ritual. The performers are mutual mirrors, completing each other and forming a plural female body of sorts. They are powerfully present on stage as individuals but equally part of a collective anatomy, composed of multiple bodies, merging with each other and assuming diverse shapes, skin colour and movement.
The women on stage share an African origin and simultaneously exile from the cities where they or their ancestors were raised. Thematically key here is the search for a common identity. As first- or second-generation immigrants, they are well aware of deriving their roots from representations of non-existent places. In fact, they make up their own imaginary locations, because neither they nor their parents have a chance to return to where they grew up. Their countries have been ravaged by war, the lives of their ancestors by colonialism, marked by slavery, sex trafficking or other forms of violence. The women do not seek to return to these places or dream of them but strive to formulate the common experience of such people living in Europe, to give it voice, word and body. What would it really be like physically to return to a country you carry within? Nostalgia, that is to say suffering caused by an unquenchable desire to return (nostos: return, algos: suffering), always has been and remains a dominant theme in the history of European art. Mailles portrays it on stage very originally on the based on the experience of individuals with mixed identities living in the early 21st century who carry their ancestors’ plight.
The personal and collective histories which the women retrieve on stage through voice and body are scarred by suffering and abundant trauma. They express the anger and pain relayed from one generation to the next. They respond to the Black Lives Matter movement, the political-philosophical concept of social justice and much else besides. But Dorothée Munyaneza and her ensemble can forge these into a cathartic experience. Traumatic rage dissolves in the women’s ritual performance, as they have learned to overcome it. The rage is not just their – they represent thousands of invisible souls with a similar fate.
conception: Dorothée Munyaneza
cast: Ife Day, Yinka Esi Graves, Asmaa Jama, Elsa Mulder, Nido Uwera, Dorothée Munyaneza
artistic collaboration – suspended scenography: Stéphanie Coudert
scenographic advice: Vincent Gadras
thanks to: Hlengiwe Lushaba Madlala, Zora Santos, Keyierra Collins
music: Alain Mahé, Ben Lamar Gay, Alex Inglizian, Dorothée Munyaneza
sound creator: Alain Mahé
lighting: Christian Dubet
production and development direction: Emmanuel Magis, Juliette Josse
technical direction: Marion Piry
light management: Marine Levey, Anna Geneste
sound management: Camille Frachet, Alice Le Moigne
production: Compagnie Kadidi, Anahi
co-production: Théâtre de la Ville – Paris, Festival d’Automne à Paris, Charleroi danse – Centre Chorégraphique de Wallonie- Bruxelles, Châteauvallon – Scène nationale, Théâtre de Saint-Quentin- en-Yvelines – Scène nationale, Le Grand T – Théâtre de Loire-Atlantique, CCN- Ballet National de Marseille (Accueil Studio 2020), NEXT Festival / La Rose des Vents – Scène nationale Lille Métropole Villeneuve d’Ascq, Théâtre National de Bretagne, Théâtre de Nîmes – Scène conventionnée d’intérêt national – Art et Création – Danse Contemporaine
with the support of: DRAC Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Ministère de la Culture, Fonds de dotation du Quartz – Scène nationale de Brest, La Chartreuse de Villeneuve lez Avignon – Centre national des écritures contemporaines, de la SPEDIDAM, du Département des Bouches du Rhône et de la Ville de Marseille.
presentation at Divadelná Nitra supported by Slovak Arts Council, Nitra Self-Governing Region, The City of Nitra, SPP Foundation, LITA — authors society
Dorothée Munyaneza (1982), singer, dancer, choreographer and screenwriter. She spent her childhood in Rwanda, studied music at the Jonas Foundation in London and social sciences at the University of Canterbury before moving to France. She makes music and dance pieces the style and themes of which draw from her intense live experiences. She compares and explores the diversity of culture of her family in Rwanda with the years she spent in London and in France. Her first professional endeavour was participation on the soundtrack for the film Hotel Rwanda (2004) and, in 2005, cooperation with the AfroCelt Sound System group in the album Anatomic. From 2006 she became involved also in contemporary dance where she combines experimental music and poetry and dance. She establishes a dialogue between music and other means of expression, for example combining Afro-folk, dance and texts by Woody Guthrie when working with the guitarist Seb Martel, or mixing dance, poetry and experimental music with the musician Jean-François Pauvros, the choreographer Ko Murobushi and the composer Alain Mahé. In 2013 she founded her own company, Kadidi, and presented Samedi Détente in November 2014 at the Théâtre de Nîmes. The show then toured extensively, with some 100 performances in France and abroad (at ITF Divadelná Nitra in 2015).