Dance-Music Production, June 2020, Swiss Jura
In the catholic church, the Requiem is a commemoration of the dead by the living. Requidounga is a contemporary reinvention of the catholic tradition resonating with African drums. The creation gathered 30 young musicians and 25 young singers from the Swiss Jura. Taught by a Burkinabé drummer and a Senegalese dancer, these young artists faced – most of them for the first time – the “exotic far”. Here, art becomes a contact zone between cultures. Contrary to contemporary discourses which complain about the loss of rituals in modern societies and nourish fantasies about exotic rites, Requidounga aimed to solve the opposition between societies with and societies without rituals through the creation of a shared ritual. Combining artistic traditions from contemporary music/dance and west African rhythms, Requidounga was an attempt to create a harmonious gesture between here and there.
As an anthropologist and dancer, I was leading the dancing part, together with a Senegalese choreographer. Through the co-creation, we learned from our divergent artistic approaches and cultural differences. We entered another creative mind, another body language, another dance aesthetic. On one hand, the far became closer, bridging the gap of cultural relativism. On the other hand, otherness and difference became manifest. Jean-Luc Nancy considers proximate as the correlate of intimate: the proximity with the other is also the infinite distance to him/her, what separates us from others (Nancy, 1996).
The production process also stressed power structures inherited from colonial times and still shaping encounters between Europe and Africa. Requidounga was an invitation to investigate this intense closeness - the strong degree of proximity because of the co-existence of cultures. But the sharing of the same spaces also implies frictions, fractures and cultural antagonism (Enwezor, 2012). How is this proximity recomposed in a postcolonial time, through migration process, creolization, globalization and intensity of contact? What does Requidounga tell us about these structures of power? Requidounga generates anthropological knowledge through the sharing of a common intimate experience, asking whether there is a way of surpassing them.