Performing Arts: Dance
September 23, 2017
Congolese choreographer/dancer Faustin Linyekula ambled downstage left with his face painted white in his production In Search of Dinozord at NYU Skirball with the air of someone going to work. He sat on the floor behind a wood frame and looked into a lap top computer. His pace, paint, and computer gazing signaled to us that his show will be unusual. The seven actors in this production, two with heaven sent voices, also painted their faces mid-way in the production and some their stomachs as well. The rectangle on the back wall framed shadows of the men moving each other tenderly, a sharp contrast to images of prisoners we see later.

A text laden show, subtitles for the spoken and sung French were projected on the back wall which has also had a vertical strip of red and a large rectangle of brown. Much of the text is provocative, for example, “I am a pebble in the boot of the General.” “The last member of the tribe is a seed.”

The contents of a trunk, papers twisted and gnarled, are spilled over the stage, gathered up, stuffed back into the trunk, a cyclical pattern made three times. His six actors calmly gyrate their hips for 5 minutes (or more) or stand still in a line or tremble. Towards the close, Linyekula and another actor entertain us with striking solos with isolated, asymmetrical gestures.

Part power point presentation, concert (excerpting Mozart’s Requiem), ritual, In Search of Dinozord,Linyekula weaves grief for a friend around information on tortures and injustices, made within the justification of maintaining government stability.

The creator of Kenya’s first modern dance company in 1997, Linyekula has toured widely with his company, collaborated with Raimund Hoghe to create a work for Ballet de Lorraine and Portugal National Ballet Company. In Back to Kinshasa, a documentary about him shown in Dance on Camera Festival 2006, Linyekula was then based in Paris and he spoke about his disconnect with the continent where he was born. Eleven years later, Linyekula is clearly back at home, committed to spinning work off the threads of traditions, traumas, and issues in the Congo, and perhaps trying provoke change.

The cast included Faustin Linyekula, Papy Ebotani, Jeannot Kumbonyeki, Yves Mwamba, Papy Maurice Mwbiti, Antoine Vumilla Muhindo, Serge Kakudji.

The premiere was presented as part of part of BRIDGING, An International Dialogue on Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts, as part of the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF)’s Crossing the Line Festival. A new initiative launched by the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations and FIAF, BRIDGING explores issues of cultural equity across cultures.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - Deirdre Towers

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