Voix intérieures, a creation by Yves Mwamba
Voix intérieures (Inner voices) is the first creation by Congolese choreographer Yves Mwamba, a politically engaged show dedicated to the youth of the Congo and their rebellions. The work draws as much from krumping street dance as from the energy of protest marches.
From Kisangani to Avignon
Yves Mwamba was born in Kisangani, on the banks of the Congo river, a city scarred by years of conflict and plagued by chronic instability. He discovered dance and hip hop as a teenager, practising them in an association that organised battles inspired by krumping, a style from the Los Angeles ghetto. His introduction to contemporary dance owed a lot to choreographer Faustin Linyekula, from the same city, who set up Studios Kabako, a space for training dancers. Yves Mwamba began an apprenticeship there that led him to join the Drums and Digging creation in 2013, which would in turn lead to an international tour after a grand premier at the Avignon festival.
The energy of protest
Voix intérieures is the first piece by Yves Mwamba. It features three Conglese people on stage: a dancer, Yves Mwamba, a musician, Pytshens Kambilo, and an activist, Rebecca Kabugho. In a stage décor consisting of plastic bags and debris created by sculptor Freddy Tsimba, this intense and very political show explores themes of censorship and freedom of expression. The movements, by turns frenetic and syncopated, summon the energy of a protest march and the rage of defiance. “We march together,” says Yves Mwamba, “as if we were protesting in the street,” to the pulsing rhythm of electric guitar loops.
The street on stage
Staged by the Semena company, Voix intérieures is the fruit of research that began in 2017. Returning to Kisangani and Kinshasa, Yves Mwamba met Luc Nkulula, an activist with Lucha, a Congolese citizen movement committed to fighting for social justice. Arrested several dozen times before being assassinated, he inspired Yves Mwamba to work against the censorship and repression endured by young people in the Congo looking for a better future. He then managed to convince Rebecca Kabugho, an activist he saw as an alter ego to Luc Nkulula, to take the stage. In so doing, he wanted to make the stage a new space for protest: “the stage,” he says, “is so vast a space that it deserves people on it, it’s no different from the street”.
Lengthy research work
Yves Mwamba’s work was built around a dialogue between France and the Congo: “France offers me freedom of creation,” he says, “and the Congo gives me energy and dramaturgy”. His first show, Voix intérieures is the fruit of a long series of residencies: at Studios Kabako in Kisangani, at the Ateliers Médicis in Clichy-Montfermeil, and at the Carreau du Temple in Paris, among others. This choral work gathers Congolese artists from several disciplines, such as writer Fiston Mwanza Mujila, who created the dramaturgy, or sculptor Freddy Tsimba, who created a tailor-made set.
Having received a Custom Residency, Yves Mwamba stayed in Democratic Republic of the Congo during the 2020 summer, to work on his project Voix intérieures.