Since 2015, the Memorial ACTe in Pointe-à-Pitre (Guadeloupe) offers once a month an introduction to gwoka dance called “Kalakaswé” and animated by a choreographer. Gwoka music is played by “tanbouyé” among them Fanswa Ladrézeau.
“Kalakaswé” was created three years ago after a meeting between Cynthia Phybel, the executive in charge of cultural and artistic programming in the Memorial ACTe and Fanswa Ladrézeau, the ka player. “I had met him on May 10, during the inauguration of the Memorial ACTe. Given that I was going to take up my duties soon, I heard the opinion of everyone. We talked about projects and he told me that ,at the time, he taught people to dance gwoka on the Place de la Victoire and, in return, they gave the money they wanted… We thought about continuing this activity at the Memorial ACTe but with certain rules and not by substituting for a dance hall, for example… So I proposed this idea in the Committee as a continuity of this “360° experience” that visitors come to live at the Memorial ACTe”, explains Cynthia Phibel. In addition, there was a connection between “The Island of Drums” presented in the permanent exhibition of the Museum and this dance project based around the Guadeloupean drum-ka. However, it was necessary to figure out how to last in the time this project. Several working meetings were organized in particular in the presence of the musician François Ladrézeau who is also associated with the creation of this programme. “We chose not to have a single focal person, but several so that it is a renewed experience every time. Each dancer, each choreographer who comes to promote the seven rhythms of gwoka has his own artistic writing which gives a very beautiful and diverse “landscape” (…)”, says the head of the artistic and cultural programming of the Memorial ACTe.
Several choreographers for different artistic expressions
As to who found the name of the programme – “Kalakaswé” (English translation: “The ka sweats”) – we do not know exactly, it is a collective invention.“It’s something mystical, deep when the ka is sweating and it goes back a long way, to ancient Egypt”, says Franswa Ladrézeau, the famous ka player.
In March 2015, the dancers of the carnival group “Mas Ka Klé” launched the first edition of “Kalakaswé” which is now organized on the last Sunday of the month from 4:00pm to 6:00pm with a 5.00 euros financial contribution per participant. Everyone (from the age of 3) is invited to come and meet Guadeloupean talents in traditional dance, more specifically in gwoka, and discover their artistic expressions. “By participating in “Kalakaswé”, the audience comes to live an experience of initiation to dance. It’s a meeting with an artist and a meeting with oneself”, continues Cynthia Phibel. Since its creation, “Kalakaswé” has already received about twenty dancers who are graduates or rooted in the local cultural environment. In addition to “Mas Ka Klé” dancers, there were: Jenny Paulin, Max Diakok, Michaël Larifla, Jacqueline Cachemire-Thôle, Stella Moutou, Natty Montella, Rony Théophile, Nadia Pater, Sandra Machire, Raymonde Thorin, José Bertogal, Maryvonne Erdan-Nicolas, the duets Axel Jacobin & Lydie Fesin and Mario Coco & the storyteller Benzo. “Initially, we did not know very well what this association between a choreographer, a storyteller and the ka players would produce but everyone made a contribution and everything went very well… We had 158 participants, it was the first time”, adds Cynthia Phibel.
The dancer Matthieu Plantier at work
On Sunday, April 15, Matthieu Plantier, the art director and president of the association “Majestika”, was responsible for leading this initiation to dance for the second time on the theme of “Sacred Gestures”. Almost 100 people were present on the “Terrasse Événementielle” of the Memorial ACTe that afternoon. Even if women predominated, men and children did not disappoint… For 2 hours, the different rhythms of gwoka were visited and Matthieu Plantier, with a lot of humour, was able to make all people feel comfortable in spite of their gaps. Result: everyone expressed oneself freely through dance, everyone sweated in the good mood, according on his level and especially without being judged. We also noted a perfect connection between the dancer and the two “tanbouyé” or drummers, Fanswa Ladrézeau and Daniel Savonnier better known as “Tirèn”. This beautiful meeting around gwoka (song-music and dance) ended with applause…
Exceptionally, “Kalakaswé” as part of the cycle called “Rhythms and Sacred” will welcome 2 choreographers in April and May. After Matthieu Plantier, it will be Léna Blou who will officiate on Sunday, April 29; on Sunday, May 27, the date of the commemoration of the abolition of slavery in Guadeloupe, admission will be free.