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The first day of the rest of my creation

Tuesday, March 14, 2023



Today is the first day of the rest of Mitsangana. My "new" solo. A dance piece that continues to grow. It is difficult to explain why, when and how my creations come to life. When my dance pieces are in gestation, I like to talk about them but I don't like writing about them. In this context, words, especially written, seem to restrict the content and the essence of what I aim to create. The words don't always give all the meaning of what I wish to explore and bring to life. It is the work in the dance studio that gives me a certain freedom to conduct my research. When it comes to conveying an idea or a concept, I express myself more easily with movement and gestures than with words.


With Mitsangana, it's a long story. I care little about knowing when the idea came. I care about giving it all the beauty it deserves.


"Mitsangana" in Malagasy can be translated in several ways. Its meaning takes on its sense depending on the intonation and intention that we put into pronouncing the word. It can be translated as "standing up," or it can also be an order or an invitation to stand up "get up!" "stand up." Every language is rich and cannot really be translated. "Standing up" means so many things.


I studied the gesture of standing up when I did my Master's in Performance Studies at New York University. The theorist André Lepecki, my supervisor at the time, and his approach to studying political movements guided my interest in this research, which could be translated as "Standing up: a daily resistance movement." Although I spent hours in the wonderful Elmer Holmes BOBST library at New York University studying alone or with my colleagues, questioning this phenomenon of resistance movement, I did not want to write extensively on this subject. In order to contribute to its definition, I wanted to create a dance piece, a performance because the "standing up" is a living gesture. It was difficult to define it with words or concepts. Beyond being a movement of resistance, it is above all a movement of life. If I had to give it a definition, I would go straight to the point: Standing up, getting up: a universal expression that means being alive and moving towards more life. It is with this definition that is specific to the work I have done that I choose today to nourish my piece.


Standing up to resist, yes. And standing up to grow and move forward.


Today, sitting in the studio, questions spin in my head. Am I alone in thinking that nowadays, to be dissident, one would have to dance a lot? Am I alone in thinking that embracing the fact that contemporary dance is diverse would be beneficial for art and culture in general but especially for us and our society by going beyond the codes that have been written, transmitted, protected and preserved in recent years in


Guillaume Diop was recently named a star at the Paris Opera and it caused a stir on social media and in the press. It's 2023 and I am questioning myself. Am I expected to represent on stage the stereotype that falsely sticks to black women? An African woman who is wild and athletic, exuding energy and giving a performance. Or perhaps, on the contrary, am I expected to conform to a certain white code?


I like playing with words for some things, but not for everything. Writing to present my dance piece that doesn't exist yet, I agree. It's not my favorite exercise, but I can play the game. Count on me!


Using words everywhere, on everything, explaining everything, even in dance, even in movement, is another thing. Don't count on me anymore!


Questions multiply. I wonder if I can exist and create as I am. Would everyone feel comfortable?


We are in 2023 and I doubt. Am I paranoid or have I understood the situation correctly?

Do I need to convince that I know where I am going artistically? Do I need to convince that ten years of career in the United States, in New York, and a repertoire that has toured internationally counts? Do I need to convince that I am a choreographer and researcher, but above all a choreographer and a dancer? Do I need to convince that creating movement with music is also choreography? Do I need to convince that I am curious by definition? That my multiculturalism is the guarantor of this quality. Do I need to convince that having grown up in a conservative country, reconnecting with my Malagasy and therefore African roots was not a smooth ride? Do I need to convince that creating bridges between my different Malagasy and French cultures is the work that I have tirelessly done all these years? Do I need to convince that I therefore have a choreographic identity that I have taken care to construct intelligently? Do I need to convince that this work is unique and valuable for the contemporary field? Do I need to convince that giving a place to the unknown can only enrich our art and culture? Do I need to convince that without a decent budget, I cannot provide a worthy show? Do I need to convince that I am neither emerging nor a victim? We are in 2023. Words, questions, words. Are they enough to convince? But above all, what is there to convince?

I know, I feel that I am not the only one asking these questions...



Today, it is 6:30 pm and I am sitting alone in the 37th Parallel studio, in front of a colorful raffia wall, pink, orange, a little yellow. I am smiling. Raharimanana, Élodie, and the technician set all of this up. I look around me and I love the joyful solitude that emanates from this place. This is art. I am in my place. I am living a joyful solitude that reveals the uniqueness of who we all are. Everywhere I look, I see a trace of life, movement left by strangers, my team, and myself. A footprint on the carpet, the drawn lines, the precious woven raffia wall, the marovany instrument, the light. I am living, breathing, sighing, smiling. Today is the first day of the rest of my residency. I have asked myself these questions because tonight, I will not be paid, we will not be paid. A band of experts has decided otherwise. However, we had done the work. We had answered the call, found the space, reflected, had the desire, expertise, equipment, music, partners, team spirit, but we do not have the money. It is better to laugh than to cry. It is better to write than to accumulate. Tonight, I enjoyed playing with words. We breathe, we get up, and we move forward. Mitsangana!

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