Tangaj Collective (Romania/Madagascar/Germany)

Recommended for audiences 16+

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Romanian choreographer and filmmaker Simona Deaconescu, and Malagasy dance artist and cultural activist Gaby Saranouffi have created a docufiction performance about a dance that literally made history. Ramanenjana has been described in historical documents as a “choreomania” or “dance epidemic” in which more than 20,000 people danced with supernatural resistance from February to May. This little-known event began in 1863 in southern Madagascar with the arrival of French colonial forces, and spread like a pilgrimage (or a virus?) to Antananarivo, the political centre. The French withdrew, only returning in 1895.

Wanting to discover the local history of the event, Deaconescu conducted a series of interviews with ethnomusicologist Olombelo Ricky, anthropologist Michel Razafiarivony, professors Ray Amandreny Benoit Randrianasolo and Serge Henri Rodin, cultural journalist Domoina Ratsara, and other people she met during her travels. Due to its strong links with colonialism, Deaconescu learned that talking about Ramanenjana in Madagascar nowadays is as challenging as it was in the 19th century.

In Malagasy, Ramanenjana means “something that makes you rigid” but also “something that makes you strong”. In southern Madagascar, Ramanenjana means “respect for those who dance with the spirits”. Working with a plurality of meanings, the show critically exposes several versions of the same historical event, investigating the past and present role of public dance within a broad social context.

Ramanenjana is co-presented by Inner Fish Performance Co. in Kelowna, the Push International Performing Arts Festival, The Dance Centre and the Rotary Centre for the Arts.


A performative docufiction by Simona Deaconescu in collaboration with Gaby Saranouffi

Mentored by Mathilde Monnier

Music: Olombelo Ricky

Performers: Haja Saranouffi, Simona Dabija, Maria Luiza Dimulescu

Costumes: Cristina Milea

Video Documentation: Simona Deaconescu, Kevin Deris

Video Editing: Cristian Pascariu

Light Design: Alexandros Raptis

Created following discussions with Olombelo Ricky, Michel Razafiarivony, Ray Amandreny Benoit Randrianasolo, Serge Henri Rodin, Domoina Ratsara, Guide Sebastian

Based on accounts described by Andrew Davidson, William Ellis, Marc Finaz, Andrianjanfy, G.H. Stagg, Pierre De Vaissière

Co-Producers: Tangaj Collective, Cndb – The National Centre For Dance In Bucharest, Forecast Berlin

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