- Performative docufiction
- In the frame of Simona Deaconescu – associate artist CNDB 2022
Ramanenjana takes Antananarivo by storm! We never thought we would see such a thing in our lifetime, but thousands of dancers explode like a bomb. There is no sound in the city other than convulsions and convulsionaries. They make such a noise that it prevents us from sleeping.Annales de la Propagation de la Foi, 1864
1863. Antananarivo. Thousands of people enter the city dancing in a hallucinatory way to the magnetic music of the drums. They can keep dancing for days without getting tired, in a powerful mental state that is difficult to define, performing impossible acrobatics and tensing their bodies in improvised movements. It is rumored that they have red eyes and that they want to convey the message of a mother to her son through their rigid movements.
In the general agitation, they are labeled sick, possessed, exploited, mad, pathologically empathetic, unnatural. The dancers are called Ramanenjana and go down in history as a group of people who were part of a choreomania, a mysterious mass dance, often called the «dance epidemic». It is unknown exactly how the disease that causes them to dance is transmitted. It is rumored to be contagious due to superstitions, the sound of music, exaggerated sympathy, or even mosquitoes.
Two months later, the «epidemic» comes to an abrupt halt as the political regime changes and European influence on the island diminishes.
1896. France annexes Madagascar. Ramanenjana floods the city again.
Simona Deaconescu (RO) and Gaby Saranouffi (MG / SA) present a docufiction show about a dance that made history, literally. In Malagasy, Ramanenjana means something that makes you rigid, but also something that makes you strong. In southern Madagascar, Ramanenjana can also mean respect for «manenjana», meaning respect for those who dance tensely.
The show critically discusses several versions of the same historical event, questioning the role of dance in society. Working closely with ethnomusicologist and musician Olombelo Ricky, the two choreographers and their team of three performers humorously explore rhythm in text, gesture, movement, and sound.
In Ramanenjana, four languages are spoken, and contradictory testimonies about dance, disease, and revolution are commented on. Combining performative and multimedia elements, reality and fiction, archive documents, and contemporary testimonies, the show takes place in a relaxed setting, open to debate and discussion.
The process of realizing the project becomes a subject in itself, inseparably related to the personal experience of its creators.
The show is a co-production of Tangaj Collective, Forecast, and CNDB – The National Centre for Dance in Bucharest, produced following the selection of artist Simona Deaconescu as Forecast Mentee, mentored by French choreographer Mathilde Monnier and her nomination as Associate Artist of CNDB in 2022.
The show benefited from an artistic residency at PACT Zollverein (Essen, DE) and a work-stay residency in Antananarivo, organized by Forecast in collaboration with the French Institute in Madagascar and the Goethe-Zentrum Madagascar.
Ramanenjana has its international premiere at Radialsystem, in Berlin, on April 9, during the Forecast Festival, and its national premiere in Romania, at CNDB on April 14 and 15.
Ramanenjana will be showcased in August in Durban (South Africa) and Maputo (Mozambique) as part of the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience selection and in September and October in Antananarivo, Majunga, and Diego Suarez (Madagascar), as part of the I’TROTA International Dance Festival selection.
A performative docufiction by: Simona Deaconescu
In collaboration with: Gaby Saranouffi
Performed by: Haja Saranouffi, Simona Dabija, Maria Luiza Dimulescu
Accompanied by the music of: Olombelo Ricky
In costumed designed by: Cristina Milea
Mentored by: Mathilde Monnier
Simona Deaconescu works interdisciplinary, at the border between performance, installation and film, examining social constructs, between fiction and reality, sometimes with irony and black humor.
She completed her bachelor’s and master’s studies at the choreography department of the National University of Theater and Film in Bucharest.
She received the danceWEB scholarship in Vienna (2014), the National Center for Dance Bucharest Award (2016), was nominated as an Aerowaves Artist in 2018 and 2022 and as Springboard Danse Montréal Emerging Choreographer in 2019.
For the last two years, she has been a resident artist in the European projects Moving Digits and Biofrictioni, and in 2021 she became Forecast Mentee, under the mentorship of the French choreographer Mathilde Monnier.
Her works have been selected and presented on dance and theater stages, cinemas, galleries, museums and architectural sites, reaching audiences in Europe, North and South America.
In 2014, she founded Tangaj Collective, and since 2015 she has been the co-founder and artistic director of the Bucharest International Dance Film Festival.
Gaby Saranouffi is a Malagasy born dancer, choreographer, art activist, Founder and Creative Director of the I’ TROTRA International Dance Festival in Madagascar, one of the most recognized dance festival that has run for 19 years in the heart of the Malagasy art landscape. Currently living in South Africa, she has been recently appointed to join the Artistic Committee of one of the most renowned arts festivals in South Africa; the National Arts Festival (NAF) in the Dance Section. Her fight for dance is relentless and she continues to expand her political artistic statement through her works, in the most tackling issues of the Gender Based Violence perpetuated against women.
Tangaj Collective Association, in co-production with the National Centre for Dance in Bucharest and Forecast
Administration of the National Cultural Fund
The project does not necessarily represent the position of The Administration of the National Cultural Fund. The Administration of the National Cultural Fund is not responsible for the content of the project or the manner in which the results of the project may be used. These are entirely the responsibility of the funding recipient.
Ramanenjana is supported by Goethe-Institut Bukarest, The French Institute in Romania, The Romanian Cultural Institute, The French Institute in South Africa, /SAC @ MALMAISON, Grizzly Film and developed in partnership with The French Institute in Madagascar, Goethe-Zentrum Antananarivo, I’TROTA International Dance Festival, JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience. The project is sponsored by AST PANZARIU, GAFCO CONSTRUCT, COSMAN GROUP, MIRA-COM, STRUCTURAL VISION, BIG CONF, BOLD IMPEX, FABIO BEST EASY ENGINEERING, LOZNA CONSTRUCT.
Ramanenjana beneficiated from a residency at PACT Zollverein.
Tickets for professionals (dancers, choreographers) can be purchased only on the evening of the event at the box office. The price of these tickets is 20 lei, within the limit of 20 available seats.