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Elegant, visual, powerful – Sur les traces de Dinozord (‘In search of Dinozord’) is a highlight in Linyekula’s oeuvre. In this political recollection, the Congolese choreographer and storyteller makes a journey through the past, tracing the steps of poet and childhood friend Richard Kabako, buried far from home, rebel Antoine Vumilia Muhindo and his years of imprisonment, waiting for an execution that never came, and hip-hop dancer Dinozord. The quest recounts lost dreams, memories of old friends in Kisangani – the city where Linyekula grew up – and how history has crossed personal journeys. Where has hope gone for a flourishing future for war-ravaged Congo? This is an attempt to create a new story of their lives, to a sound score of constant typewriter clacking, Jimi Hendrix’ guitar riffs and Mozart’s Requiem.
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Faustin Linyekula created The Dialogue Series iii: Dinozord in Vienna in 2006. This commission for American director Peter Sellars’ New Crowned Hope Festival was later also shownin Avignon, at
Springdance in Utrecht and in Paris Quartier d’été. Sur les traces de Dinozord is a remake of this performance, which is now on show for the first time in the Netherlands, with a brand new cast of young dancers.
It is now thirteen years later. The original artistic team is now spread all over the world – as political refugees, artists or both – travelling between the Congo, France and Sweden. In this performance they return to the ruins of Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo, previously known as Zaïre, the Belgian Congo and the Congo Free State. They go in search of a new story, new hope under the surface of names and places.
Antoine Vumilia Muhindo, a Congolese actor, writer, director and former political prisoner has been involved since its beginning in 2006 and joined the cast in 2012 when Linyekula revisited the first version. Among other themes, his story addresses his involvement in the Kabila resistance movement against Mobutu Sese Seko, the dictator who ruled the Congo for thirty-two years and during his reign changed the country’s name to Zaïre, and his sentence to death after Kabila’s murder by one of his body guard.
The cast includes singer Hlengiwe Lushaba, dancers Yves Mwamba and Jeannot Kumbonyeki and actor Papy Maurice Mbwiti. In addition to the many movement scenes – solos and duets – the performers drag a red coffin over the stage, from which papers are continually falling. These are the notes of Richard Kabako, poet and close childhood friend of Linyekula. Kabako was a young man with great writing ambitions who died of bubonic plague. As a tribute, Linyekula named his company and studio after his friend: Studios Kabako. The stories and memories give him a posthumous presence in the performance. Also absent (although very much alive; performing in the parade performance Parlement Debout at this festival) is the person who gave his name to the show: Dinozord, ‘the last of his kind’. This Congolese dancer, who appeared in the original in 2006, speaks here only via projected text.
Which stories stick and which disappear? We should not forget where we come from. Dinozord’s memories and Richard Kabako are kept alive in Linyekula’s Sur les traces de Dinozord, his ultimate attempt to create a new story from the ruins of a country, built on their shared lives.
Faustin Linyekula (Congo, 1974) is a Congolese dancer, choreographer, theatre maker and storyteller. In his work he addresses the legacy of decades of war, terror, fear and the collapse
of the economy in Africa. After studying literature and drama Linyekula left Congo in 1993, at the time still called Zaïre, and settled in Nairobi, Kenya. There, he cofounded the first Kenyan company for contemporary dance, Gàara, in 1997. In 2001 he returned to Zaïre, by now the Democratic Republic of Congo. In spite of the bloody conflict ravaging the country, he decided to stay and founded in Kinshasa the Studios Kabako, a creation and research space for performing art.
Together with four dancers who were trained by him, he created Spectacularly Empty, an account of his return to his native country. It was the first in a series of works in which Linyekula reflected on the history and the collective memory of his country and its people, the corruption of its leaders, their censorship and their lack of vision for the future. Two of these pieces, Le Festival des Mensonges (2005) and The Dialogues Series: iii. Dinozord (2006), were invited to the Festival d'Avignon in 2007, the first time such an invitation was extended to a Sub-Saharan African artist. In 2012, he made a sequel, Sur les traces de Dinozord, which will be shown at the Holland Festival this year with a brand new cast of young talents.
In 2006, the Studios Kabako moved to Kisangani in the North-East of the country and opened up to new artistic fields, including music and film. Alongside, indeed, fostering the work of younger Congolese artists, from training to production and touring, the Studios Kabako are also working with communities of the Lubunga district on the South Bank of the Congo river, around culture, education and drinking water issue. In total, Linyekula created 17 pieces with his Studios Kabako, which toured around the world, including more more more… future, a punk/ndombolo opera. Other collaborations include a duet with Raimund Hoghe (Sans-titre, 2009), a solo for the National Ballet of Portugal (2016) and a series of in-situ performances for museums, including the MOMA in 2012, the MUCEM in Marseille in 2016, the NYC Metropolitan Museum in 2017 and in 2018 the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren. Passionate about sound, Linyekula is also mixing music for albums and live concerts.
Linyekula received the Principal Prince Claus Award in 2007. The jury praised him ‘for his innovative activation of culture in the face of conflict, and for his energetic commitment to the development of his community.’ He came to the Holland Festival in 2012 with La creation du monde (1923-2012), a creation for the Ballet de Lorraine based in Nancy. In 2017 The New York Times wrote: ‘There’s no walking away from Mr. Linyekula ... painful, brutal, livewire intensity.’ In 2014, he and his Studios Kabako were awarded first prize by the CurryStone Foundation for their work in Kisangani. He regularly teaches in Africa, the United States and Europe. The full year of 2016, Linyekula was associate artist to the city of Lisbon as part of the Artista na Cidade Biennale.
Since September 2018 and for three years, he is associate artist to the Manège in Reims.
In 2018, he was recipient of the first Soros Arts Fellowship. Faustin Linyekula is one of the Holland Festival’s two associate artists this year.
- Faustin Linyekula
- Hlengiwe Lushaba (singer), Jean Kumbonyeki, Yves Mwamba, Faustin Linyekula, Michel Kiyombo (dancers), Papy Maurice Mbwiti, Antoine Vumilia Muhindo (actors)
- Richard Kabako, Antoine Vumilia Muhindo
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Requiem, fragmenten), Charles Lwanga Choir of Kisangani, Joachim Montessuis (Nierica), Arvo Pärt (Pari Intervallo, Redeuntes in mi, Trivium, Annum per Annum), Jimi Hendrix (Voodoo Child)
- Studios Kabako, Virginie Dupray
- KVS Theater, Brussels
- with support from
- the DRAC Ile-de-France / French Ministry of Culture and Communication