Rassemblement

Music: Toto Bissainthe (various, from the recording Chante, 1977)
Choreography: Nacho Duato
Staging: Hilde Koch
Scenic Design: Walter Nobbe
Costume Design: Nacho Duato
Lighting Design: Nicolas Fischtel
Duration: 27 minutes
Premiere: February 27, 1990; Cullberg Ballet (Örebro, Sweden)
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: April 7, 1998

Ariana Lallone in Rassemblement. Photo © Ben Kerns

Nacho Duato choreographed Rassemblement (which means “gathering”) in 1990 for the Cullberg Ballet in Sweden. The work is inspired by and set to the songs of Haitian artist Toto Bissainthe, who offered this commentary on the music and the dance:

"These songs are mostly slaves’ songs from the Voodoo cult. They express the daily life of the slaves, their longing for Africa, not as a geographical reality, but as a mythical land of freedom. They express their resistance and their refusal: resistance against the colonial, refusal of his politics, his religion, his culture and his language.

“During the history of Haiti, the face of the master has often changed. Capitalism, developing in Haiti, has transformed the sense of Voodoo. The ethnographer came first, and then the tourist for whom folklore was produced with revived exotic excitement. Voodoo, which for the poor and exploited peasants had been a celebration of the African roots of their daily more unbearable way of life, became a ‘religion,’ one of the tools of power.

“The birth of Voodoo in a land of exile, the first common language among slaves of different ethnic backgrounds, was a vital creative moment, a cultural unification which was to transform the world: an opening for the confined. That is the moment we sing about. Using the traditional music of Haiti, we meet with other musical forms to open a way towards a contemporary music that knows no frontiers.

“...Rassemblement is a creation which gradually, through the liberating powers of music and dance, proves to be an impressive, thrilling, and audience-affecting human rights appeal.”

Recommended Viewing:
Three by Duato, (includes Por Vos Muero, Duende, and Arenal performed by Duato's company, Compañia Nacional de Danza; Image Entertainment, 2002; DVD release 2001)


Notes compiled by Jeanie Thomas; edited by Doug Fullington, 2009.

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