Interview de Anais M’Panda, danseuse de la troupe Paradox-Sal au Théâtre de Sénart par les 1ere I

Les élèves de 1ere I sont reparti en mission journalistique au Théâtre-Sénart afin d’interviewer la danseuse Anaïs M’Panda sur le féminisme dans la pop culture, la place te rôle des femmes dans la danse et sur scène, ainsi que l’impact de la colonisation sur l’identité culturelle des danses urbaines telles que la house et le hip-hop.
Le spectacle crée par Ousmane Sy et les danseuses, intitulé One shot, les a rapidement transporté dans l’univers des clubs New-yorkais sur des sons de house et d’afro-beat, dont certains pas de danse n’étaient pas sans leur rappeler ceux de la troupe sud africaine Viavia katlehong, interviewés en décembre dernier. Et si tout était interconnecté ?

Voici les articles et les chroniques vidéos de nos journalistes anglophones en herbes qui en sont ressortis, bonne lecture et bon visionnage à vous !


From March 22 to 23 the dance troupe Paradox-Sal, created by Ousmane Sy, performed the show One Shot at Théâtre-Sénart in France.
The 16 women Ousmane Sy gathered in this troupe created a wonderful performance that the class of premiere I from Talma High school went to watch with their English and Spanish teachers. As they were working on cultural identity, art, and feminism, the show helped them to see the improvement of the image of women in society through pop culture.

Feminism : the new mindset shared thanks to pop culture

Overtime women’s image in society has evolved and feminism has taken a new dimension through pop culture. Icons like Beyoncé, Lady Gaga or Emma Watson but also male pop artists have spread feminist messages around the world.
The troupe Paradox-Sal, entirely composed of women and the male choreographer Ousmane Sy, contributes to the development of women’s place in the urban dance district, even if it is not their first purpose. Indeed, we can feel on stage that they celebrate the strength and emancipation of women through the songs they chose to dance on, and through their dynamic steps that can be seen as a means to advocate women’s empowerment around the world.

Cultural identity in the group Paradox-Sal

Paradox-Sal deeply explores the notion of cultural identity, with each dancer bringing their stories and experiences into the artistic creation and on stage, but also by merging their diverse cultural backgrounds and identities. The dance group is thus an artistic melting-pot where boundaries between cultures are open, highlighting the differences and the connections that unite them.
Moreover, some movements and most of the songs from the show are inspired from African and African-American culture, adding an extra layer to the cultural richness of the group and to their show. Paradox-Sal showcases the power of cultural identity and hybridization but also the respect of others through each dancers’ singular dances and common.

The importance of cultural mix

Ousmane Sy wanted this troupe to be unique and feminine so he chose to gather women from different origins like France, Ivory Coast, Australia, Cameroon, or England, creating a show that perfectly illustrates the richness of cultural mix nowadays, on one shot on stage !
By mixing elements from different cultures such as Hip-Hop, traditional African and oriental dances, Flamenco or modern jazz, One shot reflects the witness of our contemporary world : a mix of all cultures and their history. By integrating diverse cultural elements One Shot transcends barriers of time, origins, and past traumas, like slavery oppression or colonization, bringing individuals together around a shared experience, popular art and the common language of house dance.

In conclusion Paradox-Sal and the show One Shot may help women worldwide to rise and express themselves through dance, or any other means, reminding them they are queens, as lyrics repeat in the show. They spread feminism like any other feminist icons that we already know by being themselves and sharing with us their story on stage

Dance and messages : an omnipresent link By Camille Menguy

On 22 March 2024, thanks to a project run by their English teacher, Talma High School’s class of 1ere I was able to attend a dance performance entitled One Shot, performed by the Paradox-Sal troupe. This was designed to help students to make a link between feminism and the impact of colonization on cultural identities and pop culture that they started studying in class, and during several performances at Théâtre-Sénart.

The troupe’s story
Paradox-Sal, is a troupe of dancers created about ten years ago by the choreographer Ousmane Sy, also known as Baba. The company is entirely made up of women, not as part of a feminist movement, but out of a desire to have only female choreographers. The 16 women in the troupe bring different identities and cultural backgrounds on stage, thanks to their diverse origins, dance styles and personalities.
In the show that the students attended, One Shot, 10 women performed on stage, some belonged to the troupe and some were guests. Alternating between duets, group dances, quartets and sometimes solos, the show offered a great variety of dynamics and styles allowing each of them to express themselves as they wished.
From hip-hop to tap dance with African traditional dance or flamenco, the students witness a global diversification and hybridization of cultures around House dance and afro beats, mostly present in One Shot. Originated from underground nightclubs in the Chicago and New York in the 1980s, House dance brings together different steps from different sources of inspiration like tap, African or Latin dances, disco, funk… and everyday life scenes.

The interview :
The students had the opportunity to interview one of the company’s dancers, Anaïs Mpanda. Motivated by the people around her, she started dancing at a very young age, which enabled her to meet the choreographer and creator of Paradox-Sal, known as Baba, who acted as a big brother, a mentor, to her.
She didn’t specialize in one particular dance, she rather chose to be versatile and to vary from one period of her life to another. When she decided to make it her profession, she kept it as a passion, despite the pressure of having to earn money for her living through dance.
During the interview, the question of feminism was raised. According to Anais, women have always been present in the world of hip hop, even though women were more dancers than women and rather invisible as such. Indeed, despite some sexist reflections or episodes that may have taken place, Anaïs does not talk about gender discrimination in hip-hop and house since gender isn’t an issue in their world.
With the women in the troupe, they decided not to get involved in political causes or feminism, even if the lyrics and artists of the songs chosen for the show are. It may be a less direct way to deliver messages of empowerment and emancipation from any discriminations.

Opinions and goals for the future
Thereafter, their ambition is to continue to perform. Anais shared her aim is to progress and reach a higher level in dance and then to be able to choreograph her own show while continuing to tour with the troupe.
As part of this tour, the troupe Paradox-Sal performed in front of a large number of people, whose opinions on this performance varied.
Many of them appreciated the dance styles and the mix of cultures they brought with them, even if many didn’t see any message behind the steps and the performance. For the class of 1ere I, there were hidden references to femininity, racism, slavery, colonization, emancipation from any constraints, fight for equality and empowerment, thanks to the music, lyrics, steps, movements, postures, and the looks they gave to the DJ, who was a man.
A show as we love them that lets people free to interpret it as they feel.

One Shot shows a real link between dance and real-life highlighting women and their stories, like Anaïs Mpanda’s.

Beyond the Stage, Voices for Diversity and Equality in Dance. by Chloé Lamy.

Anaïs Mpanda embodies this new generation of dancers, for whom art becomes a cry for diversity and equality. With her troupe, she pushes the boundaries of hip-pop dance, making every move a statement for social change.

Professional Dancer and Voice of Diversity

Anaïs Mpanda embodies the fusion of passion and talent in the world of dance. From an early age, lulled by music and dance through the influence of her parents and close friends, she grew up cultivating her love for the art of dance movement. Guided by her mentor Ousmane Sy, she has explored different dance styles, with a preference for house and hip-hop.
While dance remains above all a passion for her, some dancers in the troupe prefer using it as a means of expression and liberation to feel freer on stage than in their everyday lives.
Through our questions Anaïs wondered about many subjects linked to what we studied in class, such as the impact of colonization on cultural identity and art, or the representation and the place of women hip-pop and the invisibility they are often under and protected by.
She acknowledged that feminism has long been present in hip-hop but has remained in the background. Indeed, she mentioned some gender discriminations or sexism in hip-pop but not as much as we could think. Furthermore, even if she underlined the fact that maternity stopped her career for a while, she asserted that being a dancer and a mother at the same time was totally possible in Hip hop and that she was eager to come back on stage soon.
Anaïs also mentioned how colonization and slavery has impacted music and dance in every part of the world, and thus nearly all the members of the troupe. As it has impacted the whole world, it has impacted cultural identities worldwide in a way or another.
As a matter of fact, the troupe is made up with dancers from diverse cultural backgrounds, some chose to incorporate elements from the traditional dances of their home countries into their performances. For instance, Nade, who is Cameroonian, an old French and German colony, mixes traditional African dance steps into western ones on stage.

The choreographies, whether created by the choreographer or by the dancers themselves, bear the traces of a genuine team effort in which everyone has melt their creativity, cultural identities and energy.
The messages thus conveyed through music and dance make these 2 universal means of communication transcend linguistic and cultural barriers.

Identity through Dance : A cultural and Gender Revolution in Progress

More than just an artistic performance, the troupe’s dancers convey strong messages on subjects such as feminism or emancipation from any constraints through the musics and songs that were carefully chosen to accompany the choreography. Music thus becomes the ideal vehicle to convey emotions and ideas about these themes, as for example on Nina Simone’s songs, known as a feminist icon and civil rights activist artist.
The diversity of the troupe’s dancers’ origins enriches the performance, offers a unique perspective of the impact of colonization and globalization on who we are, our habits, what we listen to, what we dance on and how, and more generally how we live today.
Nade, for example, bears witness of the impact of colonization on her cultural identity through her movements marked by resilience and rebellion at the same time.
Moreover, even if feminism is not the purpose of this show, as Anaïs Mpanda explained, each dancer in the troupe brings their own message to their performance, either in their solos, duos or collective passages, offering us a moment of collective an individual reflection on social and cultural issues.
Dance has thus become a tool of expression, emancipation, resistance and cultural revolution, allowing women to make themselves heard and understood where words tend to struggle to find their proper place.

In conclusion, the troupe’s dance transcends borders and genders to become a real demonstration of unity in diversity, equality and freedom.
Through their energetic performance, the dancers breathe a wind of change into the world of hip-hop dance, paving the way for a new era of creativity and inclusion.

One shot, when house and feminism mix. By Cléonice Pachayan

The 22th of 2024, the class of 1ière I from Talma’s high school in Brunoy had the opportunity to attend a dance show at the Théâtre-Sénart in Lieusaint. The show called One Shot was made by the choreographer « Ousman Sy ».
The students had the opportunity to interview one of the dancers named « Anaïs Mpanda » to look at the possible link between House music and dance and feminism.

Anaïs Mpanda, who is she ?
Anaïs Mpanda is a French professional dancer and as they’re called in France « intermittent du spectacle ». She is specialized in HipHop and House, she was open to by the underground transmission she received from her sister, her mentor Ousmane Sy and by dancing with other people, observing them and taking dances lessons. For her, dancing is a way to express herself freely and to be herself without any restriction.
The goal of Anaïs Mpanda is now to be able to manage her mother life with her new born child and her career, because for woman, having a baby and a job at the same time, as both a mother and an independent woman, is more complicated than for a man, but totally possible in Hip hop as she wanted to highlight.

Ousman Sy’s project.
Ousman Sy, the choreographer of One Shot, contacted each of the 8 dancers of the crew. He really wanted an only female troupe because they represented for him a source of inspiration since he grew up with many women in his entourage who inspired him a lot. This troupe allows to wonder about femineity and the woman’s place in HipHop although this show does not transmit any general feminist message, according to Anais Mpanda.

To be a woman in the world of dance.
The crew doesn’t want to be politically engaged or to be the icons of feminism. For Anaïs Mpanda, « to be feminist is to be for women’s rights and for equality in general » a value that has always been in Hip Hop, where women are before anything else dancers, singers or performers.
She also added that there is a kind of invisibility of women in HipHop because of the dance and loose clothing styles.
Of course, although HipHop is an open environment, being a woman is not always easy and there will always be idiots to gender discriminations. That is why it’s important to choose your entourage well. Hop
However, some elements of the show can refer to feminist ideas with powerful gestures like when they all raise their arms to show their strength, or with the songs and singers they have chosen like Nina Simone for instance, an icon and an activist whose lyrics deal with the place of African American women in society or with racism and segregation. It wasn’t chosen at random since the group is composed of women from all over the world.
In fact, each dancer transmitt their own message and their femineity through their own identity and background.

The impact of colonization in hip-hop
Since each dancer comes from different places, mainly older French or English colonies they have different cultural background that they share in their dance : Indeed, from flamenco to krump, African steps or western contemporary dance, we can see how colonization had an impact on cultural identity around the world and thus on this group, being the result of a cultural mix, an hybrid group.
We know that house music and dance were born in New York clubs, where the hip-hop dancers used to go out to and where they observed everybody, from drunk and drugged people to the ones with a different cultural style combining, miming and creating new moves and styles. This mix formed a dance dictionary, a common language for everyone which permits to bring people together today “under the roof of the same house”.
We can see that the stage was organized like New York clubs, with a DJ, lights and various powerful dances. The choice of music and songs also hints at colonization and its aftermaths like racism, slavery or racist discriminations with traditional music of Nina Simone who stood up for African American’s and women’s rights.

The show « One Shot » by Ousman Sy is a powerful dance show using the universal common language of « House » music and dance, mixing with the singular cultural identities of each dancers bringing everybody together as if they were one.

The incredible dance show « One shot » Ousman Sy and the dancers of Paradox - Sal by Dieuveille

On March 22, at the Sénart Theater, at 8:10 pm, the dance group Paradox-Sal, created by Ousman Sy in 2012 and composed of women only, performed the show entitled "One-Shot" on stage.
This show dynamically mixed house dance, to Krump, Popping, Flamenco, traditional African dances and western contemporary dance.

A feminist Show

One-Shot shows the power of women with powerful dance moves, defying clichés of weak women.
Indeed, there are mainly musics produced by talented and powerful women like Dj Zihle, Emilie Sandé, Sudan Archives, Nina Simone, and Ane Brin.
Their songs deal with the different experiences of a woman’s life, like Thabzen Bibo, which is about self-confidence and self-acceptance with the repeated words « If you know you’re a diva ».
The song Escape is also about self-confidence as the lyrics « Do you know that you’re beautiful ?” highlight ; « Plain gold Ring » deals with an impossible love ; and « Blackbird » with the feeling of loneliness and hopelessness that come with life’s struggles like racism or any kind of discrimination.

The place of women in the world of dance

“In the world of dance, women are not seen by their gender, they’re almost invisible as such in Hip Hop, even if I think that we all had small sexist incidents », a dancer member of the Paradox-Sal dance group said.

The Attachment to the culture, stronger than oppression

The women of Paradox-Sal are very attached to their origins. Like Nadé for example who learnt ancestral African dances to the famous school of Sand in Senegal.
There are various nationalities in this group, as for instance Cameroonian, Senegalese, West Indian, Australian women whose countries of origins have mainly a sad past. Indeed, Cameroon was colonized in 1885 and decolonized in 1961. It was first a German colony, then a franco-British colony, and finally only a British colony.
The colonization of the Senegal started in 1893 and ended in 1946. At the beginning it was a British colony and then it became a French one.
The colonization of the West Indies by the French started with a slave regime in 1625 and ended in 1946, when they became the French overseas departments
The choice of Afro beat and African American singers in this show allows to highlight and honor fight against the horrors and the injustices of slavery, segregation and colonization, but also of their impact worldwide till now. By choosing rather a positive one through the hybridization of cultures, the women show either their pride for their origins and their cultures, but also their unity and their strength through their common creativity despite their differences.

One-Shot, which shines thanks to its diversity of cultures and feminist aspects, shall allow people to change their mentalities.