Swan Lake had its French premiere at the Biennale de la Danse de Lyon in September 2012, and was presented exclusively in Paris at the musée du quai Branly for ten performances from 17 to 28 October 2012. An iconoclastic and highly innovative variant of the emblematic ballet where the dances of the Zulus mingle with academic dance and where the black swan is a man.
With a company of thirteen African dancers, the South African choreographer Dada Masilo revisits this great classic of Western dance, which she appropriates with her themes, Tchaikovsky's music, her tutus and her pointe shoes, and which she "South Africanises", giving it a new breath and a new life. In particular, she brings together the issues of gender and gender and homophobia in an AIDS-ravaged country.
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Photo Dada Masilo © Suzy Bernstein
Dada Masilo, a young South African choreographer and talented dancer, comes from the Dance Factory in Johannesburg. She spent two years in Brussels (2005-2006) at PARTS, Performing Arts Research and Training Studios. Very quickly, she became one of the most famous young dancer-choreographers in South Africa where she performed in all the festivals, notably at the Dance Umbrella festival, and in turn trained young dancers.
Her work is marked by reinterpretations of the classical repertoire, whose codes she appropriates and which she revisits by joyfully mixing pointe dance, contemporary dance and powerful African influences, with humour.
"I meant no disrespect to this work. But I refuse the idea that you can't touch anything," pleads the child from Soweto, a famous township in Johannesburg, who "fell in love" at the age of eleven with Tchaikovsky's ballet, the first she had ever seen and which she dreamed one day of performing, or rather re-performing. In her country, which barely escaped apartheid, the black girl quickly understood "that she will never be a ballerina" and promised herself that one day she would create her own version, which would incorporate the tutus that fascinated her but would not be "a classical version".
Spotted at the age of 13 with her troupe of street dancers, she joined the Dance Factory in Johannesburg, of which she remains the resident artist, where she forged a double classical and contemporary culture, completed by two years at Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker's school in Brussels.
A brilliant performer whose hard work amazes those around her, she began a series of about ten pieces at the age of 20, fusing choreographic styles and evoking South African society in its darkest aspects.
"The World, My Butt and Other Big Round Things" denounced sexism and violence against women in 2005, while "Love and other four letter words" addressed the scourge of AIDS in 2008.
Youyous and tutus
The artist, a voluble elf with a shaved head, also tackles the Western repertoire with several emblematic ballets. In 2008, his "Romeo and Juliet" joined a multi-ethnic Capulet family, while in 2009 "Carmen" took on a more erotic dimension than ever.
The young woman's approach, which mixes humour, irreverence but also love of movement and a sense of performance, is summed up in the prologue to "Swan Lake" created in 2010, a hilarious text in which a dancer-actor reviews the classical codes.
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All the ballets we saw could be summed up in a single ballet with the generic title: "Girls in Moonlight Tutus," he says, while the other 11 perform entrechats, undulations and grands jetés.
Iconoclastic, Dada Masilo's version shows a Siegfried in love with a man in a tutu, a dazzling black swan, who tries to escape the planned wedding with the white swan, interpreted by the choreographer, under the watchful eye of the community.
"I wanted to bring elements of African tradition, integrating the noisy and chaotic side of traditional weddings," says the artist, whose performers dance barefoot, alternating not classical, "Zulu and street dances", with the help of youyous.
The amalgam is seductive, carried by an extraordinary vitality, all the more so as the dancers also know how to move in the slower passages, notably in the superb finale to music by Arvo Pärt.
After being inspired in 2011 by "Macbeth" in a solo, "The Bitter End of Rosemary", and collaborating in early 2012 with visual artist William Kentridge, Dada Masilo explored the madness of female literary characters in "Death and the Maidens", unveiled in March in South Africa.
Nevertheless, she waits until she "has something to say" before continuing to produce, admitting that she is "a bit overwhelmed, sometimes" by the enthusiasm she arouses. (Source: AFP Sept. 2012)
10 performances: at 7 pm on Wednesday 17 and 24 October 2012; at 8 pm on Thursday 18 and 25, Friday 19 and 26, Saturday 20 and 27 October 2012; at 5 pm on Sunday 21 and 28 October 2012.
2012/2013 season tours:
VALENCIA: 17 and 18 September 2012
ARCACHON: September 21, 2012
LYON: 24, 25, 26 and 27 September 2012
VILLEFONTAINE : 29 September 2012
AIX-EN-PROVENCE: 2, 3 and 4 October 2012
NAMUR (Belgium): 8, 9 and 10 October 2012
LUXEMBOURG : 12 and 13 October 2012
REGGIO-EMILIA (Italy): 30 and 31 October 2012 (Teatro Ariosto)
DUSSELDORF (Germany): 25 and 26 January 2013 (Tanzhaus)
BRETIGNY-SUR-ORGE: 29 January 2013 (Théâtre de Brétigny)
DRAGUIGNAN : February 1, 2013 (Theatres in Dracénie)
ONET-LE-CHATEAU: 3 February 2013 (Salle La Baleine)
BORDEAUX: 5, 6 and 7 February 2013 (Théâtre Nationale de Bordeaux-Aquitaine)
ANGOULEME: 9 February 2013 (Angoulême Theatre)
CLERMONT-FERRAND: February 12 and 13, 2013 (La Comédie de Clermont)
ALES: 16 February 2013 (The Crater)
Spectacle for all ages from 10 years old.
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