A Saturday Evening in Search of Identity

After a drink near the Seine river in such a pleasant day, I headed to Vanves for the last day of 20th ARTDANTHÉ Festival. Three pieces, one theme: identity.

Medhi-Georges Lahlou: Run Run Baby Run Run

Place des lavandières. Welcome to Medhi’s playground. Ladder, flowery cactus, treadmill, pomegranates, watermelons. The oriental symbols continue to appear: hijab, tajine, spices. He climbed up the ladder and dropped the tajine. He climbed up the ladder and dropped the cactus pot.

In the world of fast-consumerism, culture has been coded, tagged. However, when we consider the world as a playground, it is easier to make fun of these codes or tags. That’s what Lahlou did. His toy/weapon is a pair of red high heels. He smashed the watermelons with the high heels and shared them with spectators. The sensory dimension of the piece started to appear and continued till the bold ending when the audience poured spices on him. That was a joyful and moving moment: on the treadmill, he tried to, it seems, run away from the identity; in reality, he embraced his identity with the oliver-oiled body allowing spectators to « tag » him with all kinds of spices. Nevertheless, the shiny red heels stood out his pursue of his identity inside. What a fearless and encouraging declaration! I can still hear his natural and childlike laughs.

Mohamed Toukabri: The Upside Down Men (The son of the road)

Mohamed stood at the entrance, greeting every spectator. I apologized my impoliteness of not introducing myself. He counted the number of each first name, starting the piece with his findings. Similar to the cultural symbols appeared in Medhi’s piece, Mohamed is a tag for Toukabri though people associates it today with terrorism instead of exoticism. Shall we name ourselves numbers instead?

Mohamed’s second identity challenge is his appearance which is not Tunisian enough. Shall we scuplture ourselves to the stereotyped look instead?

He cannot choose his birth but he can choose his path. After having discovered dance in a train station in Spain, he finds his path of becoming a dancer against all the conventional careers for men such as lawyer and doctor. Luckily he has a great father showing empathy to this unusual choice. As a tailor, he feels that his son is a tailor treating his body as textile. Mohamed told sincerely his personal story weaving seamlessly words and movements. The story didn’t finish and I eager to discover the rest of the piece soon, in Paris or elsewhere.

Dario Tortorelli – D NO BODY 5 #transcending

Closing the festival with D NO BODY 5 was a wonderful decision. Lahlou and Toukabri are inspired by their personal experience while Tortorelli takes a step back in history. Here we were back to the beginning of innocence. We were nothing but bodies: man or woman, black or white, blonde or curly hairs. Human history is about identity proliferation. You need a name, a nationality, a passport, a culture,… We make ourselves sophiscated with this endless game and have to bear the consequences when political correcteness becomes such a subtle game to play. Following dancers’ progressive move and the comforting music, I entered into meditation, fully conscious.

When the spotlight intensified, it felt like the sun burning us. The three dancers stepped back, disappearing in the darkness. Sadly, sunrise brought us back to reality. Look at yourself, Human! The spotlight said. God mirrored our past with a malicious smile, leaving us in an emptiness. Who we are now? Where are we going? Questions kept pumping out when my mind was still in the astonishment. Speechless, I was distracted when applauding. That’s how a Saturday evening in search of identity ended.


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