Fondation des États-Unis | Thursday, March 8 @7:30pm: Performance – Portraits in red
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Thursday, March 8 @7:30pm: Performance – Portraits in red

As part of the International Women’s Day and Femmes dans le monde, the FEU is happy to present the choreographer dancer Wanjiru Kamuyu’s solo work Portraits in red, which will be followed by a Q&A.

Portraits in red investigates and explores the idea of the dominant standard of beauty and puts in question the image of the body. The dominance of the European and US beauty and fashion industries’ capitalization and globalization of a homogenized standard of beauty is the springboard for the work’s research.

Being born into a bi-cultural home (Kenyan American) and having lived on three continents (Africa, North America and Europe), Wanjiru Kamuyu continues to be intrigued by each society’s general relationship to the notion of beauty and the provocation that arises around the image of the body.  Based on the 2013 reconstruction of a 2005 solo, Spiral, she decided to revisit the idea in collaboration with the artistic expertise of choreographer/dramaturge Robyn Orlin.
Her intrigue with the notion and definition of beauty coupled with the historical and current pervasive objectification and exotification of the human body, particularly female, serves as the points of inquiry into the work. Portraits in red examines conflicting ideas, issues and challenges identified with the politics of the body such as dominance, oppression, assimilation, objectification and exotification. This is propelled by an ingrained need to adapt and assimilate into a Western culturally, racially and socially biased mold of what connotes beauty.

Portraits in red is a universal narrative that is bold, brave and uncompromising in its mission.

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About the artist

Spanning over a decade Wanjiru Kamuyu’s career began in New York City. Her work with various renowned choreographers has granted her a rich and diverse career.  These experiences have influenced her choreographic voice, provided her a platform to showcase her work and to learn about the production and administrative aspects of running a dance company.

Kamuyu has worked with renowned international choreographers such as (and amongst others) Urban Bush Women / Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Molissa Fenley and Company / Molissa Fenley and esteemed New York choreographers Nathan Trice, Dean Moss, Tania Isaac (Philaelphia) amongst others.

In Paris, Kamuyu was an original cast member in the Julie Taymor Broadway musical The Lion King (2007-2010) at the Théâtre Mogador.  During her tenure she had the opportunity to present her work, when paradise shatters at its seams then what ? (2009) (10 dancers / 10 singers) on the Mogador stage. Alongside Kamuyu has worked on projects with famed French artists such as visual artist Jean-Paul Goude, equestrian choreographer Bartabas, film director Christian Faure and esteemed choreographers Stefanie Batten Bland, Nathalie Pubellier and Irene Tassembedo.  In 2010-2012 Kamuyu also served as Resident Choreographer and Dance Captain to choreographer Bill T. Jones in his Tony award winning Broadway show, FELA! (Royal National Theater and Sadlers Wells, London, Holland Festival, First US Tour and The Al Hirschefeld Theater, Broadway New York).

As a choreographer Kamuyu’s works such as At the moment of encounter (2015), Spiral (2005/20013) and when paradise gets shattered at its seams then what? (2009) have toured in the USA, Europe and Africa.  She receives commissions from dance companies (Inkboat, USA), US universities (Mills College, Stephens College, Wayne State University and the University of Michigan), theater projects (New WORLD Theater, USA 2006; director Hassane Kassi Kouyate, Maître Harold, Lavoir Moderne Parisien, Paris, 2007 and musical theater (director Jérôme Savary, À la recherche de Joséphine Théâtre National de l’Opéra-Comique, Paris and international tours, 2006).  Her choreography has received stellar reviews from the French newspaper LE FIGARO, New York Times and Broadway Dance World, awarded a 2012 Copperfoot Award by Wayne State University Detroit, USA for her group work, when paradise shatters at its seams then what?.

Education: Masters of Fine Arts (performance, choreography and pedagogy), Temple University (Philadelphia, USA).