Djata: Conversations of the Manden by Aly Keita (w/Unfold by Reequal Smith)

  • May 5 - 6, 2023
  • Bus Stop Theatre Co-op

    2203 Gottingen Street
    Halifax, Nova Scotia B3K 3B5
Ticket Price (CAD) $5.00-$20.00 This event is now over

Presented in partnership with Prismatic Arts Festival in association with Live Art Dance

Friday, May 5th @ 7:00pm
Saturday, May 6th @ 7:00pm

With opening performance of Unfold by Reequal Smith

Location: Bus Stop Theatre Co-op (2203 Gottingen St)

Unfold by Reequal Smith – 10 mins
Djata: Conversations of the Manden by Aly Keita – 20 mins
(15 mins intermission between performances)

Tickets: $5/$10/$15/$20 (For both shows - Pay what you can)

To create my piece, I drew inspiration from the Epic of Soundjata, one of the most significant foundational stories from 13th-century African oral tradition. It features Soundjata Keita, whose exploits have been transmitted through song and kora music played by lyrical poets from West Africa, known as griots. I was especially interested in the part of the legend known as “The Awakening of the Lion” to address themes of oppression, courage, metamorphosis, passage and liberation, all explored through rhythm, sound and movement.

Born from an alliance between the buffalo and the lion, Soundjata Keita, the long-awaited child whose birth was foretold by soothsayers, is unable to walk. After years of humiliation, against all odds, he stands up, walks across the village and uproots a baobab. This marks the beginning of his awakening, which will lead him to found the great Mandingo Empire, unifying the regions of West Africa, including Guinea, my home country.


Artistic direction, choreography and dance: Aly Keita Music: Lasso Sanou and Aly Keita Rehearsal director and production manager: Raffaela Siniscalchi

Description et synopsis

Pour la réalisation de mon œuvre, je me suis inspiré de l’épopée mandingue, l’un des récits fondateurs les plus marquants des traditions orales africaines (XIIIe siècle), et de son personnage-clé : Soundjata Keita. Entre histoire et légende, les griots – des poètes lyriques de l’Afrique de l’Ouest – nous ont transmis, par le chant et les notes de leurs koras, les exploits de ce personnage emblématique de l’Afrique occidentale. Dans mon processus de création, je me suis surtout intéressé à la partie de la légende connue sous le nom de « Le réveil du lion », pour aborder, tout en rythme et en mouvement, les thèmes de l’oppression, du courage, de la métamorphose, du passage et de la libération.

Engendré par la puissance du buffle et du lion, Soundjata Keita, l’enfant que tous attendaient et dont la naissance avait été prédite par les mages, est incapable de marcher. Le prince, déchu, apprit à mettre un pied devant l’autre et trouva la force de se relever. Sous les regards stupéfaits de son peuple, Soundjata marcha vers un baobab qu’il arracha du sol. Ce fut le début de son éveil qui l’aurait mené à unifier les territoires de l’Afrique de l’Ouest et fonder, ainsi, le grand empire Mandingue.

Date & Time

May 5 - 6, 2023

Venue Details

Bus Stop Theatre Co-op

2203 Gottingen Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3K 3B5 Bus Stop Theatre Co-op
Mayworks Kjipuktuk/Halifax

May 1st is marked throughout the world as International Workers’ Day, or May Day. A day when the workers of the world take to the streets (when not facing a pandemic) in every major city around the globe demanding justice, fairness and dignity for all. In North America, May Day has not been as prominent as it is in other parts of the world, but it is still celebrated in most major cities with a variety of political and community actions.  However, May Day isn’t simply a celebration of labour. It is a rallying call against our current economic system, a public declaration that “Capitalism Isn’t Working For Workers,” and an affirmation that a better world is possible.

One of the ways various labour councils and unions mark May Day is through the Mayworks Festival. Mayworks was originally conceived in 1986 by the Toronto and York District Labour Council and the idea has since spread to many cities across the country. The goal behind Mayworks is to bring workers and artists together and to use art to explore themes of justice, solidarity and liberation. Art has always been an important way of expressing political statements and Mayworks continues a long tradition of building bonds of solidarity between artists and labour organizations.

The first annual Mayworks Halifax festival took place in 2009 thanks to the organizing efforts of the Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council. Our festival has since grown exponentially from year to year and has now become Nova Scotia’s largest social justice-themed cultural event. Annually, our festival attracts over a thousand diverse audience members who take interest in issues of social, economic and environmental justice.

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