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October 11th, 2007
Zab Maboungou
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Get Zabbed
Philip Szporer

Maboungou: Coaxing coherency between physicality and musicality

Congolese traditions find new life in the electrifying new work of Zab Maboungou

The first time you see Zab Maboungou perform, you'll leave never quite forgetting what you just saw. The Congo-raised dancer-choreographer and philosopher is immensely popular, and her dance is rendered all the more appealing because she's able to articulate intelligence and spirit in her movement.

The new solo, Décompte, sees Maboungou and her Compagnie Danse Nyata Nyata celebrating 20 years of active creation and teaching. In essence, she's putting it all together, seeing the traces of time, surveying the terrain, analyzing what's left and what lies ahead. Her work challenges the idea of abstraction, pushing the boundaries of shape. Shifts in time, space and worldview - all inherently African concepts - are what inform it.

One constant is Maboungou's symbiotic integration of dance and music. "More than ever I don't separate music and dance," she says. In Décompte, she is able to coax a coherency between the physicality and the musicality, and what she elicits from her musicians (two conga players and solo cellist) is organic. The notion of making sense of things is perfectly suited to Maboungou's choice of including J.S. Bach's warm, powerful Prelude from Suite no. 2 in D minor to accompany the rhythmic drumming.

Twenty years into her career, Maboungou's engagement in the world of ideas, with its strong links in the African oral society,
still carries sway. Art, for her, is "being able to assume yourself as a person, as an entity, exchanging, dialoguing," she says. Essential Maboungou means asserting oneself in the dance space, deeply rooted in the spectrum of tradition. No more, no less.

Agora de la Danse (840 Cherrier), until Oct. 13


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