Jeff Ridjali is working on choreographic research into the specific features of his island of Mayotte, in the Comoros archipelago. This piece is a work in progress. He is creating the solo piece Territoires by examining it in the plural.
At this stage of the work, the island is seen in two ways. It is present in the materials that can represent Mayotte, but also in the intimate universe of the choreographer which he projects into his dance. Jeff Ridjali transposes his island onto the stage: we see “baliés” (house brooms made from the veins of coconut palm leaves), a “sézi” (a mat to rest on, woven from palm leaves), traditional music and the sounds of nature recreated, like the ocean depths that define the space in which the dancer evolves.
Through the improvised solo, the dancer’s intuition defines a relationship with the space linked with the discovery of other materials, as if this is a territory that is trying to find itself.
He evolves in his scenography and from one performance to the next, the choreographer adds, removes or changes the objects that accompany him on stage. They therefore define a space for the dancer but they also create obstacles for him. The dancer makes progress in rather the same way as Mahorais society, as it is perceived by the choreographer: between taboos and prohibitions. Steps on the spot anchor movement to the ground like slaves with their feet in chains, revisiting Mahorais history.
By approaching this theme through movement he draws on the possibilities offered by the calligraphy of the Arab alphabet, as taught in Mayotte: writing, drawing, delineating are causing part of the body to move. He offers a transcription of the slow, improvised movements of this calligraphy, … filling all the space on stage through his body.
Jeff Ridjali is a choreographer, born in Tsingoni, Mayotte (part of the Comoros archipelago in the Indian Ocean). In 1989, he went to Paris to continue his apprenticeship in dance and was struck by the emergence of styles from the United States, brought to France by artists from Guadeloupe, Martinique, and the Caribbean. He was awarded a study grant for the Higher National School of Dance in Marseille. There he discovered the German techniques of Karine Weiner, but also those of Roland Petit and Vaganova.
He met Isabelle Camatte with whom he founded the Kashdance school in Marseille. He then created the Urban Concept company, made up of pupils from his school. In 2001, he left to carry on teaching at the Alvin Ailey School where he started to tackle the techniques of Horton, Graham and Simonson.
This experience marked the beginning of his search for his own choreographic technique around the question of identity, something which was very much present in American artistic reflection and based on this he began to consider his own style.
He returned to his island in 2005, and founded the “Ballet de Mayotte” in collaboration with Isabelle Camatte. The aim of the Ballet de Mayotte was to create a scheme for promoting dance on the Mahorais territory: he introduced ways of encouraging public awareness and training.
A programme of events grew up around this scheme: Les Journées de la Danse (Days of Dance) and Les rencontres régionales de la Danse contemporaine: Maoré Danse (Regional encounters with contemporary dance: Maore dance), a two-yearly event bringing international artists together.
In 2007, Jeff Ridjali’s company became the island’s first official company.
Source : Lalanbik’s website
More information : https://www.lalanbik.org/
Lalanbik was founded in 2014, in Reunion Island. It contributes to the valorization of actors and choreographics writings of Indian Ocean territories. Lalanbik implement online ressources tools : the first is its website, concerning the Indian Ocean Dance news, and the other one is its online video library, which brings contents about contemporary and traditional dance writings. Lalanbik works in partnership to lead its actions in favor of the widening of publics with : libraries, theatres, dance schools, schools and higher education.
Source : Lalanbik's website
More information : www.lalanbik.org/