Back in October, I went to a few days of the Adou Festival— a hip-hop festival in the Parisian suburb of Villeneuve-la-Garenne. Coordinated by choreographer, dancer, and singer Khady Fofana and her organization, Association Nubian Soul, Adou celebrated hip-hop culture with a week of exciting events. Opening with a “kid-friendly” cocktail reception (i.e. juice and soda) and photography exhibition, the festival also included a music concert with local artists, a dance battle, film screenings, dance lessons and it closed with a dance performance featuring young people from the community dancing alongside professional dancers from several companies including Ms. Fofana’s Compagnie Khady Fofana.
With participants of all ages and backgrounds, the entire festival was very community-oriented, interactive and educational. Probably the most interesting part of the festival was the emphasis on combining modern hip-hop with traditional African elements, reflecting just one aspect of the diversity of the performers, the audience and hip-hop culture itself. As you can hear in my video montage of the battle above, live drummers played alongside DJs spinning hip-hop tracks (the featured music is from a quick rehearsal right before event), and at the concert, the drummers provided backup for rappers, slammers and singers, while dressed in traditional African clothing.
In France, hip-hop artists and fans really honor the fact that hip-hop was originally an American tradition comprised of at least three main elements: rap, break dance and graffiti (with DJing, fashion and language not far behind) and I have found a ton of events, like the Adou Festival, that really try to embrace as many of these as possible while also paying homage to the various cultures of France. Additionally, there are also many dance festivals that are centered around or feature hip-hop culture including Suresnes Cités Danse [http://www.suresnescitesdanse.com/] which I’m going to in a few weeks, and Europe Hip-Hop [http://www.theatre-chaillot.fr/spectacle.php?id=76] which I attended last October at the National Theater of Chaillot in Paris. While I love seeing these shows, I have to admit that all of this dance makes me really miss my dance group, diSiac, from college. So, I’m going to finally live up to one of my resolutions to find a hip-hop dance class here, and quickly! Let me know if you have any recommendations and enjoy the video. 🙂