Company Vivons | Never Twenty One

Smaïl Kanouté

Creation 2020

Trio | 55 minutes

Suitable to all audiences

Education activities

Echoing the hashtag ​#Never 21​ designed by the Black Lives Matter movement to denounce the early deaths that gnaw at discriminated youth in poor neighborhoods, with this choreographic piece Smail Kanouté wishes to pay tribute to the young victims of firearms in New York, Rio or Johannesburg… who die before the age of 21.

In the mystical symbolism, the number 21 is a sign of divine protection and luck. It’s a number that promotes creative inspiration, success, fulfillment. In this, the 21 generally pushes to want to rise higher and to seek a certain fullness. In its positive aspects, this number is then the expression of balance and harmony. But in its negative aspects, a sometimes disproportionate ambition and the risks of dispersion can take over.

Never Twenty One… when the number 21 becomes a cursed number, symbol of shortened lives.

Is living without reaching the age of majority a life? Dying in childhood, what does it mean? Dancing a missing child, what does that induce? An innocence in the movement?

And for loved ones, what traces leaves a mourning on a body? What dialogue is created between the visible and the invisible? Scientists say the body loses 21 grams upon death. Is it the weight of the soul? That of emotions, bodily energy, memories of a lifetime?

In an urban atmosphere tinged with shamanism, three dancers will resuscitate the words / ills of the victims and their families. Through their bodies that have become graphic sculptures, surfaces of expression and claim, objects of resilience, memorials … like wandering spirits, they will tell us about their lives stolen, torn away, sacrificed.

Through them, we will relive the moment of the murder, but also the encounters and the roles that each takes in this arms business which eats away at this discriminated youth from poor neighborhoods. An inevitable chess game where some, imprisoned in mafia circles, are pushed to play with their lives, and where others, innocent, find themselves unexpectedly on the trajectory of stray bullets.

Here, life hangs by a thread and every day destinies are broken prematurely.

Never Twenty One is based on the testimonies of the families of the victims who will be partially transcribed on the bodies of the dancers who will become their interpreters and messengers. A body-words-public trilogue will thus be created to pay homage to the missing and keep their memories alive. The work of light will come to suggest the absence, but also the sometimes angry souls of the victims in search of forgiveness and peace. Moving from urban dance to contemporary dance, from hybrid to tribal, different energies will cross and animate the bodies to make the invisible appear and name the inexpressible.

These tales alive in the past, mortified in the present and garish in the future will echo those of the favelas of Rio or the townships of Soweto…

Never Twenty One… because their lives still matter.

Choreography Smail Kanouté

Performer Aston Bonaparte, Jérôme Fidelin aka Goku & Smail Kanouté

Outside view Moustapha Ziane

Sound- and light creation Paul Lajus    

Set design  Olivier Brichet    

Body painting Lorella Disez

Costume design Rachel Boa & Ornella Maris

Production Company Vivons !

Co-production Les Ateliers Médicis – Clichy sous Bois | Espace 1789 – Saint-Ouen | CENTQUATRE – PARIS | Les Rencontres Chorégraphiques Internationales de Seine Saint Denis | Théâtre de la Ville – Danse Élargie 2020

Support DRAC Ile de France | Région Île-de-France | Ville de Paris | Adami | Spedidam | Caisse des Dépôts

Upcoming tour dates

Stage photogaraphies © Mark Maborough | Screenshots – New York © Henri Coutant