I didn't know what to expect out of this performance once the Congolose choreographer and dancer Faustin Linyekula, the solo artist on stage was unknown to me but I must confess the fifty minute performance had me hooked onto him and his storytelling.
"I am a storyteller but I am not here to tell stories. I am here to dance", he stated as he took us along with him on the journey back to Obilo in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he spent part of his childhood. An intimate journey he shared with the audience ... a journey that had us immersed in the night dances his ancestors used to dance and that he used to listen to as a child ... a journey of his own doubts ...
In the quest of whether his internationally acclaimed works had made any difference in the course of the history of his country there was the firm conviction that "mere art can stand up against the enormous ugliness of life."
Engaged in a physical dialogue with the music of Flamme Kapaya Linyekula danced majestically, moving every piece of his body and interspersing his raw moves with very subtle moves of his fingers and supple body rocking.
The circle of stage lights arranged on the stage floor which he stepped onto half way through his story telling played an important role in casting huge projected shades behind him in what may have been the ambiguous image of a man who despite being connected to his ancestors is nevertheless alone and apart.
The sense of loss was rather strong as the dances and stories were repeated simultaneously and as he unplugged the stage lights connecting the audience to a laptop flashing a slide of his trip home.
I loved the simplicity of the means Linyekula used to share such a powerful story ... his story ... the story of a storyteller who wonders if telling a story can make a difference.
Having been made aware that Festival Alkantara, under whose auspices he was invited for the second time to Lisbon, may no longer continue and having heard that a manifesto was going on Linyekula mentioned it as he was thanking the public after the final ovation, believing people's voice might make a difference.
"You have to be pretty crazy to believe stubbornly - in spite of the twistings of history, the wars, the revolutions, the regimes - in the celebration of beauty." - Faustin Linyekula
Coreography and performance: Faustin Linyekula
Music: Flamme Kapaya and Obilo drummers
Production: Studios Kabako, Virginie Dupray
Co-production - Centre National de Danse- Pantin Studios supported by DRAC - Île de France and the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.