Urban Bush Women and Compagnie Jant-Bi @ YBCA

Urban Bush Women and Compagnie Jant-Bi
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
“Les écailles de la mémoire (The scales of memory)”
Friday, April 4, 2008

Urban Bush Women and Compagnie Jant-Bi have collaborated on “Les écailles de la mémoire (The scales of memory),” a full-evening length work centering on identity, family, and history. I’ve seen both companies before, albeit separately, and this unique union proved that collaboration is a good thing.

The dancers begin by reciting their names and their ancestors: parents, grand parents, great grandparents, etc. There’s a connection, even if just by blood, that we can’t deny. “Memory” tackles many of the same issues as Company Ea Sola’s “Draught and Rain, Vol 2” did, but with much more choreographic development and success.

The men of Compagnie Jant-Bi easily compare to Urban Bush Women’s dancers. These strong men display presence and fortitude. Had I not known these were two separate groups, I would have assumed the dancers formed one complete troupe. The men strutted across the stage early on wearing red shirts that they later pulled off and slapped the floor with. The images of the bright red striking against their backs and then the ground as they hovered in a low squat lingered in my mind, and while I consciously knew they were up on a stage, dancing, performing, I still cringed and tried to look away. These men were enjoyable to watch, but their shapes and motions felt haunting all the same...

For more, go here.

Photos by Thomas Dorn and Antoine Tempé

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