In a country renowned for its contemporary dance it’s good to see what else is around. The Faso Danse Theater is based in Brussels and its raison d’être and inspiration is Africa – French speaking Burkino Faso to be precise.
Set up in 2002 by Serge Aimé Coulibaly soon after his arrival in Europe, the company has won awards and toured around the world. Coulibaly’s states that his aim with his new work, Wakatt, is to examine daily reality and social changes through a dance language that starts from internal violence, human instinct, urgency and the need to express oneself, to say something concrete through the body.
It started very promisingly – a huge setting (or rising) sun glowing bright on the horizon casting its light on a stage twenty centimeters deep in black mulch with a large menacing rock in the corner. The eight dancers slowly appeared in silhouette, apparently standing still and silent but in fact imperceptibly turning 360 degrees on the spot. A ninth dancer slowly emerged from his leafy grave and the action started. The performers, all in street clothes – albeit Saturday night street clothes – started running round screaming and pushing each other. It was like a zombie movie with a great soundtrack. The excellent music was performed live on stage by Magik Malik on flute, who also composed the music, Maxime Zampieri on drums and Jean-Luc Lehr on bass.
Visually the piece was exciting and original, unequivocally invoking the dark continent. The décor and lighting were excellent and the pace was non-stop. There were moments of real power – I liked when the ensemble came down stage and vented their anger at the audience with silent screams and accusation. Another significant moment came with the appearance of a shaggy white witch doctor who wandered on like a lost sheep, more comical than threatening.
Wakatt is an interesting and thought provoking piece of theatre which uses an African milieu to explore and reveal aspects of often violent and zombie-like human behaviour. A bit like Night of the Living Dead meets The Lion King – but without the lions. Michael Hasted at Theater Rotterdam on 4th March 2002
6th March Internationaal Theater Amsterdam
8th March Stadsschouwburg Utrecht
10th March Chassé Theater Breda
12th March Amare Den Haag
15th March Parkstad Limburg Theaters Heerlen