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Jo Tomalin

Chiromani at Ballet de l’Opera Paris

By Jo Tomalin

The Opera National de Paris in France offers an international program for Jeune Public -Young Audiences – featuring performances of professional dance, music, operas, ballet and musicals. Open to all, the program is geared towards young people and their families, teenagers and young adults who are offered a plethora of choices from these art forms throughout the season, and some companies offer workshops and talks from the artists. What a wonderful opportunity to discover world class performances and to develop a taste for the arts!

January 12 -15, 2024, this program presents Chiromani at the Amphithéâtre Olivier Messiaen, Opera Bastille, Paris. Chiromani, choreographed by Salim Mzé Hamadi Moissi and performed by Moissi and six dancers is named after the traditional fabric worn by women from the Comores, an Archipelago located between the African coast and Madagascar.

The dance traditions of this region range from 16th-century African Bantu and Muslim cultures to 19th century French colonization to the present day. Moissi has created a hybrid of the physical expressions of life in Comores by blending tradition with modernity – including hip hop!

Moissi and his cast – several with dance awards from the Comoros – are dynamic, athletic and graceful at the same time. The program states that there are traditional dances in the Comores for men and others for women but in this performance the women will be honored and dances will combine and feature both male and female dancers.

The abstract visual storytelling of the choreography, together with the inspired moody lighting design by Patrick Clitus result in a vibrant and visceral performance set to a melange of recorded music and sounds. The music ranges in styles and speeds with fast electric urban rhythms to slow processionals that curve around the stage in the ensembles, duets and solos. A highlight is a solo to pensive piano music, which is particularly moving. Beautiful imagery is created by the sincerity and creative physicality in the space – and later on in the costume change from street clothes to solid color gowns replete with several multicolored sections in each one.

The cast: Mohamed Abode, Saila Ali Ahmed, Takia Ali Ahmed Abdallah, Origine Mohamed, Salim Mzé Hamadi Moissi, Kamal Mzembaba, Nael Omar.

At the performance I attended on 12th January, the amphitheatre was almost full and the performance was very well received by the audience. The energy and emotive performances of the dancers is outstanding and the choreography is from the inner soul with pure movement that is original and compelling. This company creates and shares a wonderful sense of community with us in the one hour performance – Highly Recommended!

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