Inspired by a real-life incident years ago, when police bust in on Joseph Toonga after a neighbour complained about noise, and he had to prove he was a dance student to them and had done nothing wrong, “Born to Manifest” is a brutal and brittle concrete slab of dance. Toonga's choreography sits neatly alongside the cultural signifiers of black culture, where racially-motivated police brutality isn't merely alluded to but represented in an unflinching way in hip-hop, film and literature. I'm reminded of tracks like Public Enemy's “Fight the Power,” Ruthless Rap Assassins' “Justice” and Childish Gambino's “This Is America.” It's dance that defies, dares you to look away, makes you complicit as a spectator in its discomfort.
“Born to Manifest” by Joseph Toonga. Photograph courtesy of the artist
The son of a painter and a set designer, director/choreographer Jean-Christophe Maillot was, it seems, destined to have a life in the theater. Born and raised in Tours, in central France, in 1960, he studied dance and piano at the Conservatoire Nacional de Région de Tours before joining the Rosella Hightower International School of Dance in Cannes.Continue Reading