Raw and roaring, dancer and choreographer Faustin Linyekula captivated audience members at the Kogod theater in The Clarice Friday, to showcase his performance, “Tales of Home: Congo/Mozambique.”
To be quite honest, I didn’t know what to expect. This was my second time attending a dance performance – the first being last month at the “Native Roots Monologue,” where Seneca hoop dancer Lumhe Micco Sampson entranced the audience while Lakota rapper Frank Waln poured his heart out.
It all began with complete darkness. The air seemed to pulse with anticipation, so much so that I was wholeheartedly expecting Linyekula to suddenly appear above us with a flashlight under his chin, pranking us all.
Thankfully, that didn’t happen (that would’ve been a plot twist right?). The event started with a few lights appearing at the edge of the stage and Linyekula appearing with a book in one hand and an African figurine in the other. He walked toward the front, setting the book down and using the figurine as a stool.
He began his story, his voice steady, streaked with nostalgia and wonder as he opened the door to the past.
The beginning was a bit slow at first, Faustin taking his time in constructing his story, repeating certain words or phrases so excessively that I could repeat them accurately at the ending part of the act, when he reproduced the monologue once more.
As an immigrant, I connected with his tale of leaving home and having the memory of it haunt you. He discussed the dances he saw during his childhood, wanting to recreate them for the rest of the world to experience and know the treasures that his small village, Ubundu, holds.
Each of us have a time or place, a memory, a person, a song – something that makes us feel like home, and each time you plunge into it, you learn something new about yourself.
That’s what the performance was about – Linyekula finding his voice, his dance, his way of expressing his desires and ambitions.
“I am Kabako,” he repeated throughout the stages of his art, never explaining just quite what it meant. Was it a second name? Why does he find such comfort in “Kabako”?
Perhaps, we may never know.
Faustin Linyekula presents a solo work, titled “Le Cargo,” at New York’s Museum for African Art.
One thing’s for certain – Faustin has a voice like gale winds, a raven screeching at the sun, wings exposed and ready to devour the king’s crown.
I only expected dance, but he did quite the contrary. He unravelled his past with the loom of his voice, sang the hymns from the days he was a choirboy, and brought back ancestral rituals through his frantic yet certain movements.
His passion through dance was seen clearly as he shook uncontrollably, sometimes landing on the ground and making me wonder if it signified a loss, a broken piece that he was desperately attempting to find.
The mystery and magic of the story left me pondering at the canvas.
His performance wasn’t blunt. It was abstract, allowing the audience to paint their own version of his tale. However, Linyekula was clear in his desperation to discover his true dance, how to appropriately aid his people and how to continue preserving his voice as he dances and tells his stories around the world.
At a certain point, he danced among a circle of lights, three giant shadows appearing behind him against the dark curtain. Three Faustin Linyekula’s dancing along with him, each one having a different heart, a different power behind their flight, a different journey to continue.
It’s all a matter of the quest.
Karla Casique is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.