The San Francisco International Arts Festival will present the world premiere of Religion Kitendi: Dress Code by Chanel “Byb” Bibene, Artistic Director of Kiandanda Dance Theater with an original score composed and performed live by Manolo Davila. The piece is inspired by Congolese Sapeurs (dandies) who become metaphors for the legacy and ongoing political ramifications of European slavery and colonization in Africa and America.
The production is scheduled to take place at the ODC Theater, 3153 17th St, SF on Friday and Saturday, July 1 and 2 at 8:00 p.m. The show lasts 60 minutes without intermission.
General admission tickets are $20, full-time students and seniors are $16, and Early Bird tickets are available through April 30 for $15. To contact the box office or get more information, CLICK HERE or call 415-399-9554.
The Congolese Sapeurs are the instigators of a movement called La Sape, which is characterized by the wearing of expensive haute couture clothing. Sappers claim that they embody elegance and sophistication even in hardships. It is both an act of resistance and a method of adaptation stemming from a painful history linked to colonization. Although they wear expensive outfits, Sappers are ordinary people who use high fashion to find healing and joy. Religion Kitendi proposes to explain the La Sape movement. Originally a reference to European fashion in colonial-era African countries occupied by France, Sappeurs originated in the cities of Brazzaville and Kinshasa and spread to other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Bibene’s intention is to show the audience the many levels of socio-political significance that dressing up can hold.
On Kiandanda Dance Theater
Founded in 2008 in the Republic of Congo, Kiandanda Dance Theater (KDT) is an international performing arts company based in San Francisco that produces choreographic work exploring themes around issues of social justice. The KDT dance aesthetic is rooted in the dance cultures of the Kongo people of Central Africa.
The company creates ethnic and contemporary dance works and aspires to bring together performers from Africa and the United States through its two programs Mbongui Square Festival and Tracing Africa Circle-African Dance Histories and Philosophies.
Chanel “Byb” Bibene (Artistic Director, Choreographer, Projection Design)
Chanel Bibene is a dance teacher, choreographer and performer. He is the founder and artistic director of the Kiandanda Dance Theater and the Mbongui Square Festival.
Bibene’s innate technical and aesthetic sensibility is rooted in the culture and dances of the Republic of Congo. Her professional interests are the interdisciplinary fields of theatre, traditional, Afro-urban and contemporary dance. Bibene has performed internationally and toured the world with companies from Africa, Europe and the United States.
Prior to her training in Europe, Byb practiced traditional arts in her hometown of Dolisie, RC. This training was interrupted when Byb and his family became refugees during the 1997 civil war. Much of his work since that time has been to bring attention to the plight of war refugees in general, and those from Africa in particular.
Manolo Davila (composer and musician)
Manolo Davila is a San Francisco native and a prolific composer, multi-instrumentalist performer, arts educator and organizer. Manolo’s musical repertoire draws heavily from his Puerto Rican roots and also includes Afro-Caribbean, hip-hop and R&B influences. He has developed original compositions and performed with several Bay Area music and dance ensembles including: Mara Reggae, Loco Bloco, Rara Tou Limen, Kalbass Kreyol and Soltron. In June 2020, Manolo produced and released his first solo recording, a six-track album titled Magna Freaq: Human Beam. Manolo thanks and honors his ancestors, especially his father Quique Davila, a native of Puerto Rico and an influential musician in the Puerto Rican community in the Bay Area.
Latanya D. Tigner (artistic advisor, dancer)
In addition to being a longtime collaborator with Byb and Kiandanda, Latanya D. Tigner has performed professionally with Dimensions Dance Theater in multidisciplinary works rooted in African Diaspora dance forms since 1986. She holds a B. in Physical Education/Dance and a Masters in Arts Administration. and directs the Dimensions Dance Theater Youth Company and lectures at the University of California, Berkeley.
Over her 30+ year dance career, Latanya has created commissioned works for Dimensions Dance Theatre, Black Choreographers Festival, Robert Moses’ Kin, UC Berkeley, Mills College, and has presented works at the SF Ethnic Dance Festival, CubaCaribe and Mabina Dance Festival. (Congo Brazzaville). She has also choreographed for Cal Shakes’ Black Odyssey, SF Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale, Ubuntu Theatre’s Dance of the Holy Ghost, Delina Brooks’ An Open Love Letter to Black Fathers, Contra’s In the Blood. Costa College, For Colored Girls and Godspell. , and Victorious by Li Smith.
Additionally, Latanya is Co-Artistic Director of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival for the 2018-2021 seasons and a founding member of Oakland’s Anti-Racism Organizing Committee. Latanya conducts ongoing research into African dance retentions in African American social dancing, which has led to the creation of Dancing Cy(i)phers, an annual symposium that connects coded dance languages of African descent .