The artist behind the concept, creation and choreography for this show is Burkina Faso-born choreographer Serge Aimé Coulibaly.
Coulibaly established his professional career in Africa, later moving to Europe to reinvent himself as a European dancer and choreographer. He worked with Alain Platel’s les ballets C de la B before founding his own company, Faso Danse Théâtre, which is making its first appearance at the Barbican with the UK premiere of Kalakuta Republik.
The show’s title comes from Kuti’s dubbing of his residence in the suburb of Lagos the ‘Kalakuta Republic’. This space was an independent commune – the refuge where his counterculture gained momentum – until it burnt to the ground in 1977 following an assault by armed soldiers.
Notably, Coulibaly’s Kalakuta Republik is not really about Kuti himself, nor is it a musical show based on his work.
Instead, it is an exploration of artistic engagement in a globalised, post-colonial world. It draws parallels between African revolution in the 1970s and political resistance today to force audiences to question how free anyone from any country, culture or creed can ever be without hope and vision.
The first half of this intense ensemble work is in black and white. Monochrome images of devastation in Afghanistan and Syria are projected onto screens as moving backdrops.
Downstage, we encounter relentless live dancing – a mixture of jazz and hip-hop – and urgent singing; both media creating an intense reaction to the wars, dictatorships, corruption, misery, inequalities and racism.
The second half is propelled by bursts of colour, in a place reminiscent of a sweltering nightclub. Here, freedom reigns. Provocative messages illuminate the stage; jazz-infused Afrobeat is in the air; and the dancing becomes decadent as individual dancers improvise.
Coulibaly will take to the stage with six other dancers – three men and three women – to perform Kalakuta Republik at the Barbican.
As dance and revolution combine with pulsating rhythms, audience members may well find themselves up on their feet. After all, the uprising waits for no one…
|What||Faso Danse Théâtre / Serge Aimé Coulibaly: Kalakuta Republik, Barbican Theatre|
|Where||Barbican Theatre, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, E2CY 8DS | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Barbican (underground)|
30 May 19 – 01 Jun 19, 19:45 Dur.: 1 hour 25 mins inc one interval
|Price||£28 (half-price for under-16s)|
|Website||Click here to book|