The choreographic research I carry out, fuelled by living in the Congo, informs all the productions by the Compagnie Baninga.
In Brazzaville, death is at the heart of daily life. "Brazza the green" is a small capital city that might seem peaceful, but it sometimes feels like life hangs by a thread there. First, there's civil war. It's a lasting memory that we don't like to talk about, but which still makes us jump at the slightest unusual noise or movement. Then, there's today. The smallest accident or slight fever can be fatal to the strongest person. An explosion destroying an entire district of the city in early 2012 reminded each citizen of the insecurity and disinformation in which we live.
Death doesn't go unnoticed. Six-day vigils are held, during which family and friends – close or distant – set up around the house of the deceased. These vigils set the tempo of city life, and it is seen as almost impolite to try to find out the cause of death. The death of a relative or neighbour, young or old, happened yesterday and will happen tomorrow; it will be celebrated, but this death can't be explained. In Brazzaville, death is just there – that's how it is, it doesn't have to justify itself.
Artists from this country often present themselves as warriors. Warriors in a battle for survival less than ten years ago, "warriors" in a battle for a better life today. Through contemporary dance, I fight for freedom of expression, to promote action rather than words, and to help Congolese society to move forward. What "weapons" does an artist have when evolving in a world where weapons of steel have obliterated everything? Where can we find beauty? Beyond lamentation, where can we find a desire for the future?
In 2001, when I arrived in Brazzaville at the end of the war, dance struck me as a response. However, launching yourself into dance at that time and place still meant dancing with death, so to speak. Working all day long without being able to feed yourself is a bit like leaving your own body in order to find the strength to dance. It's a kind of spirituality and my relationship with "the other world" that has allowed me to keep going and even move forward. It's as though on this wounded land, the dead know more than the living. With 'Au-delà', I want to tell others how I have rubbed shoulders with death and how people from my country manage today. I want to talk about how a particular rapport with "the afterlife" (the "Au-delà" in French) fuels my artistic – and therefore political – commitment.
Chorégraphie : DeLaVallet Bidiefono
Musique : Morgan Banguissa, DeLaVallet Bidiefono, Armel Malonga
Texte : Dieudonné Niangouna
Création lumières : Stéphane ‘Babi’ Aubert
Création sonore : Jean-Noël Françoise
Danseurs : Jude Malone Bayimissa, DeLaVallet Bidiefono, Destin Bidiefono, Ingrid Estarque, Ella Ganga, Nicolas Moumbounou
Chanteur : Athaya Mokonzi
Musiciens : Morgan Banguissa, Armel Malonga
Constructeurs : Laurent Mandonnet, Salem Ben Belkacem
Administrateurs de production : Antoine Blesson et Émilie Leloup, assistés de Léa Couqueberg
Production déléguée Compagnie Baninga / Le grand gardon blanc