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San

CN D - Centre national de la danse 2010 - Director : Centre national de la danse, Réalisation

Choreographer(s) : Mantsoe, Vincent (South Africa)

Present in collection(s): Centre national de la danse , CN D - Spectacles et performances

Video producer : Centre national de la danse

Integral video available at CND de Pantin

en fr

San

CN D - Centre national de la danse 2010 - Director : Centre national de la danse, Réalisation

Choreographer(s) : Mantsoe, Vincent (South Africa)

Present in collection(s): Centre national de la danse , CN D - Spectacles et performances

Video producer : Centre national de la danse

Integral video available at CND de Pantin

en fr

San

“The San people are the inspiration for this piece. The San are the aboriginal inhabitants, the hunter-gatherers of Southern African plains, at one time known as Bushmen – living people of the Kalahari desert. The dance performance is a continuation of their journeys and an extension of their spirit and taps into the oppression to which they were subjected for centuries, their slow but consistent expulsion from the land being taken over by farmers and miners, until they were confined to the desert. The San have been silenced, hounded, tortured, and endured the terrors of genocide. Reinventing the journey of the San, the piece questions our capacity to adapt to the passing of time and to others.

The 12th century Persian poet, Mawlana Jalal Ad-din Balkhi Rumi, originally born in Afghanistan, inspired the musical score, “La passion de Rumi” (The passion of Rumi), played on the kamanech (violin), the barbat (short-necked lute), the târ (long-necked lute) and the daf (drum). Shahram Nazeri, popular Iranian singer and master of traditional Persian and Sufi music, is accompanied by his father, Hafez Nazeri playing Persian Lute. One does not need to understand the words in order to appreciate the emotion, the invitation to come on a journey and a certain mystical celebration that they manage to transmit to us. Dating back from 11st century, traditional Persian music bears the influence of musical tradition along the Silk Road (Turkey, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Senegal, Mali), and it is quite conceivable that Persian music at some point connected with the musical culture of the San. 

The music is a key factor in the choreography, which translates sensitively the poetry and the spatial dimensions, through the depth of the dancing bodies. During their performance, the dancers therefore paid careful attention to the simplicity and the precision of the rhythm, and responded to the melancholy of the music. These five dancers, coming from different cultures, were encouraged to mix, to work on the quality of their listening and their relationship with each other.

The piece is built on several combinations during which each dancer, in constant contact with the others, expresses his inner journey. Each one of these journeys seems to bring the dancers to the end of their journey, before another performer takes over and travels along the same path.

Between simplicity and refinement, “San” is a reflection on tolerance, adapting to the passage of time and being open to the unknown.” 

Choreographer's notes

"While creating the piece, my initial task with these dancers from different cultures was to encourage them to mix, to work on the quality of their relationship and to listen to each other. Their maturity, their knowledge and their availability while creating this piece allowed us to choreograph it as quickly and easily as possible, thanks to their discussions with each other.

I built this piece around several combinations, in which the dancers explore their own story, their own discoveries. These different journeys are accompanied by the others, one by one, right to the end, before another dancer takes over.

These inner journeys were constructed in the constant presence of a Persian composition by the musician Sharham Nazeri, encouraging travel and a certain mystical celebration. The dancers paid careful attention to the precision and simplicity of the rhythm; their bodies live and vibrate to the melancholy of the music. This relation between simplicity and refinement was the guiding force of my choreographic approach to ‘San’”.

Source: Vincent Mantsoe, performance notes for “San”, 2010-2011 

Updating: February 2014

Mantsoe, Vincent

Choreographer, performer and dance teacher, Vincent Sekwati Koko Mantsoe was born in 1971 in Soweto, a Johannesburg township (South Africa), in the district of Deipkoof. Raised by his mother in a family of healers (“sangomas” in Zulu), he attended ritual healing ceremonies from a very young age, when he accompanied women during their trance (his grandmother, aunt and mother) on the drums. His personal choreographic practice was initially built on street dances influenced by the first music videos, among them those of Michael Jackson, who Mantsoe would imitate, along with his childhood friend Gregory Vuyani Maqoma. Along with other friends from the township, they created a street dance group, The Joy Dancers.

During this time, when he described himself as a “punk with a perm”, Vincent Mantsoe only just survived a serious car accident thanks to his mother's care. This “rebirth” as he calls it, made him become aware of the value of his spiritual heritage. His work would consequently become an opportunity to evoke his ancestral beliefs or the voices to which he surrenders when he dances.

With the help of a scholarship, he became a hard-working student in 1989, training at the Moving into Dance Company Mophatong (MIDM), one of the first multiracial companies in South Africa, run by Sylvia Glasser, which he then joined at the end of his studies. There he studied a wide range of techniques and types of dance, Asian and Western as well as African, in South Africa and in Australia, at the Victoria College of Arts. In 1995 he took part in the 1ère rencontres chorégraphiques de l’Afrique et de l’Océan Indien (first Africa and Indian Ocean choreographic encounters) in Luanda with the company MID, and presented the piece “Gula Matari” which won the first prize. 

He became associate artistic director of the company MIDM in 1997, and created many solos and ensemble pieces there, also collaborated with other companies in South Africa (Ballet Theatre Afrikan) as well as in the United States (Dance Theatre of Harlem), in Sweden (Skanes Dans Theatre), Israel (The Inbal Dance Company), and in Canada (Collective of Black Artists).

His choreography combines traditional African dance with contemporary, Aboriginal, Asian, Indian and Balinese influences, and embraces ballet, Tai-chi and various martial arts, to forge a personal afro fusion style. A multiple prize winner, Vincent Mantsoe has an international career, particularly in Japan, in the United States and in Canada.

The demands of his international career led him to give up his responsibilities as associate director in 2001 to become artistic consultant instead; Vincent Mantsoe then founded his own company in 2005, alongside his wife, the dancer Cécile Maubert, who he met while working with the Marseilles choreographer Michel Kelemenis in 1999. Based at Saint Pont in the Auvergne region, this is how he describes the philosophy which underpins the work of the Association Noa-Cie Vincent Mantsoe: “The spirit of dance and Ancestors are the source of the work, the free mind cannot be separated from the natural force, that ultimately create a unique way of executing different forces, which can lead to the process of transformation between the past and present”.

Despite being based in France, Vincent Mantsoe is clear about his South African identity: “I'm a South African choreographer in France, not a French choreographer” [2]. The creation of “Skwatta” during the Jomba! Festival (Durban) in 2012 testifies to his roots in contemporary South African society: indeed the work is inspired by the makeshift camps which are plentiful throughout South Africa.


Sources : V. Mantsoe ; M.- C. Vernay, “Vincent Mantsoe: “Transmettre un message social de rebellion”, Libération 2 July, 1997 ; Article in the “City Press” in August 2012

Centre national de la danse, Réalisation

Since 2001, the National Center for Dance (CND) has been making recordings of its shows and educational programming and has created resources from these filmed performances (interviews, danced conferences, meetings with artists, demonstrations, major lessons, symposia specialized, thematic arrangements, etc.).

San

Choreography : Vincent S. K. Mantsoe

Choreography assistance : Cécile Maubert-Mantsoe

Interpretation : Aude Arago, Romain Capello, Sarah Cerneaux, Desiré Davids, Vincent Mantsoe

Set design : Serge Damon

Original music : Shahram Nazeri

Lights : Serge Damon

Costumes : Vincent Mantsoe

Duration : 60 minutes

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