2022 Summer Series June 11 - July 2

May 12, 2022
For immediate
release

Contact:
Andrew Wood 415-399-9554 (o) 415-305-1102 (c) [email protected]
Emily Lee 415-399-9554 (o) 415-609-8870 (c) [email protected]

Congolese Choreographer Chanel "Byb" Bibene:
From Teenage Refugee to Performing Artist,
Gentleman Farmer and Head of Extended Family

Calendar Editors Please Note
Who: Kiandanda Dance Theater
What: Religion Kitendi - Dress Code
Where: ODC Theater, 3153 17th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Date & Time: Friday - Saturday 8:00pm, July 1- 2, 2022
Tickets: $16 - $20 General Admission
Box Office and Information: https://www.sfiaf.org or 415-399-9554
.

Photos Available on Request

San Francisco, May 12, 2022: When Congolese choreographer Chanel Boungouandza "Byb" Bibene, founder and artistic director of Kiandanda Dance Theater, steps onto the stage for the world premiere of his latest evening length work, Religion Kitendi - Dress Code, it will be 15 Years since he made his US debut at the San Francisco International Arts Festival (SFIAF) on May 24, 2007. Byb was a member of the Congolese dance ensemble, Compagnie Li-Sangha, who presented a 40 minute work titled Mona-Mambu.

The occasion turned out to be a pivotal moment in a remarkable life story. Born in Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, Byb had a cross-cultural upbringing, being from both the Kongo (paternal) and Ntsangui (maternal) ethnic groups. His extended family provided a close-knit environment, including a traditional arts education, that embraced both communities. The family's collective lives were interrupted and they became refugees after a civil war re-ignited in the country in June 1997.

Following this harrowing experience, Byb continued his education, graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Economics/Finances from Marien Ngouabi University, Congo. But the business world was not Byb's sole focus and he also continued his dance practice. This now included the post-modern movement that was taking hold in several parts of Francophone Africa.

He joined Li-Sangha, whose members together created new choreographic pieces that spoke to their collective experiences. Much of the focus of his work since this time has been to draw attention to the plight of war refugees in general, and those from Africa in particular. The company was nominated at the Danse en Danse Festival in Paris in 2006, which led to the engagement in San Francisco. SFIAF had recruited a local interpreter to provide translations for the French-speaking company. Byb and Dara became romantically involved and the decision to marry and operate from Africa and the United States came from there.

It was around this time that Byb founded his company, Kiandanda and the Mbongui Square Festival (see artist biography, below) and continued creating work and traveling between both countries.

In 2020, Byb's father passed away, causing his return to the Congo for a protracted period. The rituals (and dances) for bidding farewell to the departed (especially the titular head of a family) were not brief. They were an involved process in which the remaining living family members also emerged as having changed or transitioned. Byb is now a senior member of the family in the Congo (as well as the father of African-American children).

Along with being the head of the family, comes significant responsibility in the family's business interests, part of which remains farming. These duties recently saw Byb once again interrupt his choreographic and teaching practice in the Bay Area to travel to Dubai to purchase a tractor and other agricultural equipment on behalf of the Congo branch of the family.

Byb continues to balance his life between creating dance, teaching dance (UC Berkeley, Sonoma State University and St. Mary's College) and his commitments (agricultural, community financial planning and otherwise) to an extended family based in two continents.

Religion Kitendi marks the beginning of another stage in his career. One where the lessons learned from Africa and the Congo are deployed to comment directly on the continued impact of slavery and European colonialism on the Diaspora. But also one where there is room for kinship, levity and hope.

Byb Bibene Biography
Byb Bibene is a dance educator, choreographer and performer. He is the founder and artistic director of both 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. His professional foci are the interdisciplinary areas of theater, traditional, Afro-urban and contemporary dance. Bibene has performed internationally and toured throughout the world with companies originating from Africa, Europe and the United States.

Prior to training in Europe, Byb practiced the traditional arts in his home country, in the cities of Dolisie, Pointe-Noire, and Brazzaville, RC. This training was interrupted when Byb and his family became refugees during the 1997 civil war. Much of the focus of his work since this time has been to draw attention to the plight of war refugees in general, and those from Africa in particular.

Full-length dance works include: Taboo & Heroes (2016), 350+ Millions of Moving Targets (2019) and Overseas (2011) (with Amara Tabor Smith). Bibene’s notable installation and durational projects include: Nzoto Installation (2013) and the Nkisi Nkondi-Sacred Kongo Sculpture (2018).

Bibene has been nominated for two Isadora Duncan Dance Awards: Reconstruction, in collaboration with cellist and dance artist Chris Evans, and saxophonist David Boyce in the category of Creative Sound (2017) and Nkisi Nkondi-Sacred Kongo Sculpture in the category of Visual Work (2018). In 2017, Taboo and Heroes was nominated for a Kikwetu Award in Outstanding Choreography.

Bibene holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Economics/Finances from Marien Ngouabi University, Congo and an MFA in Dance Creative Practice (Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence) from Saint Mary's College of California. He is a lecturer of dance at UC, Berkeley.
 
Kiandanda Dance Theater
Kiandanda Dance Theater’s mission is to generate innovative performing art projects that address specific social justice issues that undermine the global human society.Through its Mbongui Square Festival project, KDT seeks to promote diversity, equity, education and an exchange of ideas through a multidisciplinary program that aspires to be a transformative experience for the individual and the community.

Founded in 2008 in the Republic of Congo, KDT is an international performing arts company based in San Francisco that makes choreographic work exploring themes around social justice issues. 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 bridge performing artists from Africa and the US via its two programs Mbongui Square Festival and Tracing Africa Circle-African Dance Histories and Philosophies.

Calendar Editors Please Note
Who: Kiandanda Dance Theater
What: Religion Kitendi - Dress Code
Where: ODC Theater, 3153 17th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Date & Time: Friday - Saturday 8:00pm, July 1- 2, 2022
Tickets: $16 - $20 General Admission
Box Office and Information: https://www.sfiaf.org or 415-399-9554.

Photos Available on Request

~XXX~




San Francisco International Arts Festival
Phone Number: 415-399-9554 | Email: [email protected]
1222 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

 

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