Kiandanda Dance Theater

Friday, July 1, 2002, ODC Theater San Francisco
Presented by SFIAF, San Francisco International Arts Festival

“Religion Kitendi-Dress Code”

Kiandanda Dance Theater was founded in 2008 in the Republic of Congo. Now based in San Francisco, KDT’s “dance aesthetic is rooted in the dance cultures of the Kongo people of Central Africa.” Director Bibene’s foci are “the interdisciplinary areas of theater, traditional, Afro-urban and contemporary dance.”

There were several dimensions to this performance, including dance, film, music, all developing the theme of “dress-code”, by dance and by continuing changes of costume. The set included racks for clothes of many shapes, designs, colors and patterns. The dancers costume changes presented and amplified the theme of the film “Les Sapeurs”.

“Decked-out dandies or “sapeurs” known as “La Apologies or La Saps, (Society of Ambiance Makers and Elegant People)”… meet and compete (to see) who has the most expensive clothes and shoes.” Director Bibene “takes a critical look at this colorful sartorial scene…which has more complicated cultural implications.” (e.g. … spending thousands on clothes in a poor community.”) Charming, delightful and elegant La Saps may be but basic needs go unheeded.

The performance includes delightful dancing, lively music, many outfits to admire and a detailed film on “Les Sapeurs.” The evening included an after discussion of African fashion and group dancing.

This reviewer was most moved by Bibene’s solo. Fully dressed in an off-white suit and carrying a suitcase, he climbed a ladder, as if to “get out”. He backed down and tried again to no avail.

This short work characterized efforts so many know when limited success is achieved.

All the dancers are remarkable in their abilities to move, interact with each other and with the audience while continually changing costumes and moving furniture. Outstanding for me was Shawn Hawkins, a member of several Bay Area dance companies, his ability to move effortlessly through complex floor and aerial activity is remarkable. Seemingly without transition he moves from one level to another delighting and startling the viewer.

The company includes: Dancers Byb Chanel Bibene, Latanya D.Tigner, LaKiesha Golden, Shawn Hawkins: Composer and Live musician Manolo Davila; Light Design: Harry Rubeck.

Four videos were shown to amplify and illustrate “Religion Kitendi”.

The evening was a delightful event, showing, telling, illustrating Bibene’s stories and craft.

For this reviewer, a careful selection of the many events would strengthen the performance.