WKcollective | Portraits in Red

A choreography by Wanjiru Kamuyu developed with Robyn Orlin



Creation 2017

Running time: 35 to 42 minutes

Suitable to all audiences

Portraits in red investigates and explores the idea of the dominant standard of beauty and puts in question the image of the body. The dominance of the European and US beauty and fashion industries’ capitalization and globalization of a homogenized standard of beauty is the springboard for the work’s research.

Being born into a bi-cultural home (Kenya/USA) and having lived on three continents (Africa, North America and Europe), Wanjiru Kamuyu continues to be intrigued by each society’s general relationship to the notion of beauty and the provocation that arise around the image of the body.  Based on the 2013 reconstruction of a 2005 solo, Spiral, she decided to revisit the idea in collaboration with the artistic expertise of choreographer and dramaturge Robyn Orlin.

Her intrigue with the notion and definition of beauty coupled with the historical and current pervasive objectification and exotification of the human body, particularly female, serve as the points of inquiry into the work.

Portraits in red examines conflicting ideas, issues and challenges identified with the politics of the body such as dominance, oppression, assimilation, objectification and exotification. This is propelled by an engrained need to adapt and assimilate into a Western culturally, racially and socially biased mold of what connotes beauty.

Portraits in red is a universal narrative that is bold, brave and uncompromising in its mission.

Choreography & performance |

Wanjiru Kamuyu

Dramaturgy | Robyn Orlin

Music (composition) | Nate May

Music (arrangements) | lacrymoboy

Costume conception | Robyn Orlin

Costume manufacturing | Birgit Neppl

Lighting design | Cyril Mulon

Art | Wangechi Mutu

Upcoming tour dates

Kenyan Wanjiru Kamuyu, with an already forged international career, including the USA, attracted a small public triumph, in a Spiral of a solo, stirring a gigantic piece of fabric at times like a prosthetic attached to her own hair, to the straps of her dress, to her partial nudity, in a grand sequence of metamorphic tenacity, sacral and very well inhabited. This power of soloist conviction well echoes the festival’s opening by Germaine Acogny in Mon Elue Noire choreographed by Olivier Dubois.”

Gérard Mayen, Danse Canal Historique, April 2017


Photos © Stéphane Chouan