The Dance Centre and PuSh International Performing Arts Festival present
Smail Kanouté/Compagnie Vivons!
Never Twenty One
January 19 – 21, 2023
Scotiabank Dance Centre
The Dance Centre acknowledges that it is located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. It is an honour and a privilege for us to be guests in their lands. We are grateful.
Smail Kanouté is a French-Malian dancer, designer, and artist. He belongs to a young generation of artists who are reconsidering established visual codes and aesthetics across a number of disciplines and arts/cultural practices, and bringing them together in unexpected ways. His is a new voice on the rise: I feel his work resonates deeply and helps expand our own understanding of who we are, and to reflect on the stories that are passed down to us, as well as the experiences of Black communities.
Our longstanding partnership with the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival allows us to present new names and expand the dance geography we endeavour to present. The Dance Centre strives to provide a window for diverse voices and to nurture discourse, where dance is seen as a political force, as much as a motivational, inspiring and fulfilling experience. I am so pleased to introduce this work and Smail Kanouté to Canada!
Executive Director, The Dance Centre
Never Twenty One
Choreographer: Smail Kanouté
Dancers: Aston Bonaparte, Salomon Mpondo-Dicka, Smail Kanouté
Body painter: Marie-Helene Babin (Vancouver presentation)
Assistant choreographer: Moustapha Ziane
Scenographer & light designer: Olivier Brichet
Sound designer: Paul Lajus
Light manager: Josselin Allaire
Costume designers: Rachel Boa & Ornella Maris
Executive Production : Compagnie Vivons!
Les Ateliers Médicis – Clichy sous Bois / Espace 1789 – Scène conventionnée danse – Saint Ouen
Les Rencontres Chorégraphiques Internationales de Seine Saint Denis / CentQuatre – Paris
Théâtre de la Ville – Danse Élargie 2020 – Fondation d’entreprise Hermès
Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles Ile de France / Région Ile de France / Institut Français
Département de la Seine-Saint-Denis / Ville de Paris
Adami / Spedidam / Caisse des Dépôts
Never Twenty One
An ode to life in tribute to young victims of firearms
Echoing the hashtag #Never 21 designed by the Black Lives Matter movement, Smail Kanouté pays tribute to the young victims of gun violence in poor and discriminated neighborhoods of New York, Rio or Johannesburg… who die before the age of 21.
In the mystical symbolism, the number 21 is a sign of divine protection and luck. It’s a number that promotes creative inspiration, success, fulfillment. In this, the number 21 generally pushes people to rise higher and seek a certain fullness. In its positive aspects, this number is then the expression of balance and harmony. But in its negative aspects, a sometimes disproportionate ambition and a risk of dispersion can take over.
NEVER TWENTY ONE… when the number 21 becomes a cursed number, the symbol of shortened lives. In an urban atmosphere tinged with shamanism, through their graffitied bodies, three dancers embody the words/evils of the victims and their families. Like wandering spirits, they tell us about these stolen and broken lives. Moving from krump to electro, popping to contemporary dance, different energies slowly come through to bring out their invisible presence and name their inexpressible pain. Through them, we experience the moment of the murder, but also the encounters and the roles each one takes in this arms business which eats away the discriminated youth from poor neighborhoods. An inevitable chess game where some, imprisoned in mafia circles, are pushed to play with their lives, and where others, innocent, find themselves unexpectedly on the trajectory of stray bullets. Here, life hangs by a thread and every day destinies are broken prematurely.
Built from testimonies from the families of the victims partially transcribed on the bodies of the dancers, this choreographic piece aims to pay tribute to the missing ones to keep their memory alive, and perhaps to accompany their sometimes still angry souls in their quest for forgiveness and peace. NEVER TWENTY ONE… because their lives still matter.
Compagnie Vivons was founded in 2016 under the impulse of the dancer-choreographer-visual artist Smaïl Kanouté. Over time, his projects have been supported by CentQuatre-Paris, Mains d’OEuvres, Institut du Monde Arabe, Ateliers Médicis, Palais de la Porte Dorée, and recently by Espace 1789 – Saint Ouen and the MC93 – Bobigny. His works have been presented in France and abroad (Brazil, Mali, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Sweden, UK, Canada).
Smail Kanouté – choreographer
Smail Kanouté is a French-Malian multifaceted artist based in Paris. Graduating from the ENSAD (National School of Decorative Arts), he learned dance in the streets of France, Brazil, Mali and Europe.
Chorea-graphist as he calls himself, he is both a graphic and silkscreen designer, a visual artist and a professional dancer. The definition of the motif is at the heart of his artistic search and generates each new production. His pictorial works and performances are therefore recognisable by expressive motifs which compose an alphabet, both modern and abstract. Everything starts from a motif: a shape, a line, a curve, a color, an emotion, an energy… to which he gives life through his body. Mixing dance and visual arts, his choreography becomes a painting of moving patterns in space.
Identity as a work in progress versus inheritance is at the core of his work. Knowing where we come from to better define who we want to become. A gatherer of world stories and storyteller of social facts, his artwork is fueled by artistic and multicultural influences. Through his art, Smail welcomes the audience to step into a new journey of self-discovery, by sharing his vision of beauty and humanity A talented and generous artist, Smail Kanouté belongs to a young generation currently renewing visual codes and aesthetics in all possible disciplines. www.smailkanoute.com
Aston Bonaparte – interprète
Originally from French Guiana, from a very young age Aston Bonaparte was interested in dance. When he was a teenager, he was introduced to urban dances. The documentary film RIZE, a true revelation, led him to move towards Krump dance. In 2009, he left for France to deepen his practice in the different styles of hip-hop dance. His choice fell on the Kim Kan school under the artistic direction of Thony Maskot. He trained there in Old School and New School hip-hop style, in particular popping which he made his favorite style. After two years of training he obtained his diploma and decided to broaden his knowledge and horizons by integrating the academic training of Studio Harmonic, under the artistic direction of Corinne Lanselle. There, he discovers other ways of moving and interpreting music through jazz, classical and contemporary aesthetics. Aston is an interpreter on the pieces LES INDES GALANTES at the Opéra Bastille with the company Rualité / Bintou Dembélé, HEROES with the Compagnie de Soi / Radouanne El Meddeb. He will also dance for artists such as Dope Saint Jude or Dj Snake. With this eclectic and constantly evolving journey, Aston tweaks his style thanks to the meetings and artistic projects with which he is associated. Each time, he uses all his skills to create a dance that is unique to him and resembles him, namely a mixed race, like his native land, Guyana … and that Aston did not forget it.
Salomon Mpondo-Dicka – interprète
Originally from Toulouse, Salomon Mpondo-Dicka aka Bidjé De Rosa begins dancing at the age of 10 under the influence of his younger brother and encouraged by his mother. At the James Carlès center, he follows the Hip Hop class of Saint Louis Rhino. Through the Krump dance, he takes his first steps in the underground world, and joins the Hip Hop group called “Team Shake” with which he performs on many stages, including BOTY (Battle Of The Year). Quickly his desires and abilities lead him to explore other dances and universes. He joins a company of young dancers directed by Rachel Garcia (scenographer) and Marion Muzac (choreographer at the Toulouse Conservatory). Together, they undertake a rewrite of one of the most famous contemporary dance pieces: the Rite of Spring. His BAC degree becomes his “pass” to leave home and start training in Paris. For 2 years he follows the professional hip hop dance training at the Kim Kan school, under the tutelage of Thony Maskot, pioneer of hip hop dance in France. Subsequently he collaborates with several companies: Collectif (La) Horde / Arthur Harel, Cie Massala / Fouad Boussouf, Swaggers / Marion Motin or DC Vortex /Hugo “Yugson” Lumengo. These choreographers are, on different scales, the people who open up new horizons for him (video clips, concerts, performances) that nourish his experience. Today, Bidjé De Rosa intends to leave his mark in the artistic landscape of which he is a part.
THE DANCE CENTRE
The Dance Centre was established in 1986 as a resource centre for dance professionals and the public in British Columbia, and offers a range of activities unparalleled in Canadian dance. The Dance Centre offers programs and resources supporting the professional development of artists, presents public performances and events, manages Scotiabank Dance Centre, one of Canada’s leading dance facilities, and works to promote BC dance.
Staff Executive Director Mirna Zagar; Programming Coordinator Raquel Alvaro; Associate Producer Linda Blankstein; Director of Marketing Heather Bray; Digital Marketing Coordinator Lindsay Curtis; Development Coordinator Anna Ruscitti; Venue and Operations Manager Simran Ghesani; Lead Technician Chengyan Boon; Comptroller Elyn Dobbs; Dance Central Editor Shanny Rann
Board of Directors Jason Wrobleski (Chair); Andrea Reid (Vice-Chair); Annelie Vistica (Treasurer); Tin Gamboa (Secretary); Judith Garay; Linda Gordon; Arash Khakpour; Rosario Kolstee; Anndraya Luui, Rachel Maddock; Katia Oteman
The Dance Centre is grateful for the generous support of The Choreographer’s Circle, Anndraya Luui and the BC Arts Renaissance Fund.
THE CORPORATE LEADER’S CIRCLE
Alexander Holburn Beaudin + Lang LLP – Ingrid M. Tsui, Partner; The Holiday Inn and Suites Vancouver Downtown – Angela van den Byllaardt, Sales Manager; Jarislowsky, Fraser Limited – Beau Howes
THE CHOREOGRAPHER’S CIRCLE
Impresario: Charles and Eve Chang Foundation, Anndraya Luui
Choreographer: Anonymous, Anonymous, Beau Howes and Genieve Burley, Tony Giacinti (in memory of Lola MacLaughlin), Stephen Jarislowsky, Anne Hildebrandt
Artistic Director: Linda Blankstein, Marnie Carter, Yosef Wosk OBC, Moh Faris, David Matte
Principal Dancer: David Cousins, James Felter, Mike and Kathy Gallagher, Ken Gracie and Philip Waddell, McGrane – Pearson Endowment Fund, Jean Orr, Don and Jane Shumka, Janet and Ron Stern
Dance Artist: Anonymous, Anonymous, Ken Alexander, Santa Aloi, Rosario Ancer, Mary and Herb Auerbach, Gary R. Bell, Andrew and Andrea Benzel, Noel Best and Barbara Shuman, Matthew Breech and Shino Watanabe, Richard Cavell and Peter Dickinson, Amanda Collinge, Norm and Dorothy Cross, Count and Countess Enrico and Aline Dobrzensky, Jason Dubois and Clayton Baraniuk, Nicola Follows, Judith Garay, Peter Harmon, Linda Johnston, Emily Klukas, Amy Millar, Andrea Reid, Kathy Scalzo, Kemo Schedlosky and Mark Gatha, Betty Scheltgen, Ingrid Tsui and Matthew Heemskerk, Annelie and Dan Vistica, Denis Walz, Michael WeltersMax Wyman and Susan Mertens, Jason Wrobleski, Mirna Zagar
THE ARTIST’S CIRCLE
Linda Aristizabal, Brent Belsher, Denis Blais and Paras Terezakis, Val Brandt, Deborah Dragon, Lorna Froidevaux, Lynn B. Johnston, Lorita Leung – The Lorita Leung Dance Association, Barry McKinnon, Dubravko Pajalic, Dr. Mary Robertson, Frank Salisbury, Selma Savage
The operations of The Dance Centre are supported by the Government of Canada, Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of British Columbia, the BC Arts Council, and the City of Vancouver.
Media sponsor: Stir
The VDC Dance Centre Society is a registered charity no. BN 11925 8754 RR0001