In March 2015, JAE successfully premiered ANGAJE at the BCA’s Plaza Theatre with two sold-out performances, and is currently touring this full-length production with original choreography and costume design by Jean Appolon, set to the music of Haitian legend Toto Bissainthe. ANGAJE is inspired by the struggle against homophobia and the power of Haitian folkloric culture in the fight for justice.
In Haitian Creole, “Angaje” means “committed” or “engaged,” with the implied meaning of political engagement. “Angaje” also describes a strand of protest music rooted in Vodou rhythms that lie at the heart of Haiti’s culture and its founding as the first black republic in the world.
Jean Appolon’s ANGAJE is a meditation on different forms of social oppression, including violence against homosexuals which is on the rise in Haiti, as young men are sought out, maimed and sometimes killed by mobs of anti-gay protestors. ANGAJE gives voice to this interlocking set of issues through a narrative choreographic arc rooted in Haitian dance tradition and set to music of equal artistic, cultural and political importance.
Haiti’s Vodou religion—practiced by the majority of Haitians—is considered a “safe space” for gays. Haitian folkloric dance and music are drawn from Vodou—secularized and adapted for the stage like many other sacred arts forms around the world. Toto Bissainthe’s folkloric music references Vodou as a source of strength and inspiration.
In ANGAJE, Jean Appolon reflects on the struggle of young gays in Haiti, and the power, beauty and rootedness that all Haitians, but especially the marginalized, can find if they just look inside their own culture.
With a running time of 75 minutes including one intermission, ANGAJE can be performed in a variety of settings ranging from a mainstage theatre to an outdoor festival with a 20′ x 20′ dance floor. The production is performed by JAE’s six Company dancers, and can include recorded music or live music performed by guest musicians. ANGAJE can be fully produced with professional lighting and original set design by visual artist Anya Smolnikova.
In combination with a live performance, Jean Appolon and his Company are available to conduct workshops/master classes with groups of all ages and abilities.
For booking information, please contact JAExpressions@gmail.com. Photography by Wayne Lake and James J. Grady.
JAE Press Kit materials available for download: