Aktivasyon Imaginasyon nou nan Petwo/ Activating Petwo's Kinesthetic Imagination was a collaborative piece created as part of the 4th Ghetto Biennale in the Gran Rue section of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, December 2015. This piece was originally conceived by Dasha Chapman, US-based scholar and dancer, and then developed and made in collaboration with Haitian choreographers/dancers Jean-Sebastien Duvilaire from Abricots, Yonel Charles based in Jacmel, Dasha, and myself.
We proposed a collaborative performance event that would engage with the rhythm, dance, and historical memory of Petwo and how that resonates in contemporary Haiti. We were also interested in how the revolutionary resources encoded in Petwo inform vital imaginings of power, lakou (yard / community), and resistance so needed today.
As Dasha explicated in our proposal: While “Petwo” can indicate a whole Vodou system, the Petwo with which we are concerned emerges from the foundational historical event/myth of Bwa Kayiman, as well as the codified music and dance practices in which this revolutionary history is encoded. The fast, fiery rhythm and forceful dance of Petwo is said to be the “slave dance,” but importantly it is a dance that carries on the energies and vitality of slave resistance.... What we are concerned with here are the ways in which Petwo’s “kinesthetic imagination” (Roach 1996) is communicated and revisioned through the passage and aesthetic elaboration of story, dance and collective kinetic experience. In what ways does Petwo inform understandings of Haitianness today? How can we harness Petwo/Bwa Kayiman’s call for unification across difference in order to foment revolution such that it performatively activates new energetic revolts and social imaginings? Can we do so in ways that do not perpetuate the heteromasculine strictures on Haitianness that marginalize women, queers, dancers and artists?"
Photos by Lazaros for Ghetto Biennale and Lee Lee.