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Moving Africa 2

La Compagnie Mali - 'Ti Chlb; Compagnie T Burkina Faso -'Buddu'

A woman indomitable

by Cassandra

March 15, 2005 -- The Barbican, London

Moving Africa 2 this year featured companies from Burkina Faso and Mali. The first work, “Ti Chèlbè”, is performed by La Compagnie from Mali and is an extraordinary piece both danced and choreographed by Kettly Noël. Noël originally hails from Haiti and has an impressive CV of achievements in setting up both schools and companies in Africa. As a performing artist she is riveting.

In “Ti Chèlbè” Noël portrays a woman beset by mental demons, a strange figure dressed in the outfit of a bag lady with her trousers under her dress and several brassieres worn one above another over her dress and a couple more fastened round her waist under it. She inhabits an arena of rusted corrugated iron, at first alone, flinging herself across the stage in a frenzy before subsiding into a quieter mood, her face sometimes beautiful and serene and then contorted by the madness that descends on her. Eventually she is joined by a man who watches her intently as if trying to analyze her behaviour. He approaches her warily before engaging her in a duet of escalating violence, viciously grasping her hair in an act of humiliation before she rallies her strength to gain the upper hand, pulling off his tee shirt and angrily whipping him with it. Life may have treated this woman harshly, but she won’t allow herself to be subjugated.

As her male adversary, Marius Moguiba presents a devious opportunist trying to exploit the weaknesses of Noël’s troubled soul but failing in his attempts to dominate her despite responding seemingly instinctively to her shifting moods. Both these dancers are outstanding interpretive artists and Noël’s tour de force performance will stick firmly in the mind as a harrowing account of suffering and intensity.

The second half of the programme consisted of a work called “Bûddu” danced by Compagnie Tâ Burkina Faso. It features three male dancers in a piece that reflects the situation in the smaller African communities endeavouring to retain their traditions in the face of increasing urbanization. “Bûddu” opens in silence with Auguste A.I. Ouedraogo, the leading dancer and choreographer, dominating the other two dancers as perhaps the community leader. When the drum beats kick in the entire work transforms into something energetic, forceful and at times competitive, with the men vying with each other over the ownership of a woven mat.

I’m not sure if the sentiments of adjusting to a changing world quite came across, but it was very much a crowd pleaser with a lot of credit going to Mamadou Kienou, the percussionist, a jolly fellow who engaged the audience in some synchronized clapping at the calls, ending the evening on a high note.

 

Edited by Staff.

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