Congolese choreographer and dancer Dorine Mokha will be on residency at Kaserne Basel, Switzerland, in December 2019 to complete the final piece in an autobiographical trilogy of works. Over the course of this year, Dorine has developed the work at Regional Mobility Partner Studios Kabako in Kisangani, who together with Kaserne Basel, are co-producing the project. He has worked with renowned South African performer and choreographer Boyzie Cekwana as external eye, as well as ongoing music collaborator Kisangani rapper and singer Franck Moka. Dorine met Pro Helvetia alumni Mats Staub in Lubumbashi earlier this year, who collaborates on a video element for this piece in the trilogy.
Entre deux: Testament follows Entre deux (2013) and Entre deux II: Lettre à Guz (2015). The trilogy tells the artist’s deeply personal story of acknowledging his identity and sexuality within a society hostile towards difference. Each piece responds to different social and political issues related to Congolese society and its realities. This final piece will evoke the struggles that helped Dorine to persevere through adversity, to go deeper into his artistic approach and that gave him the strength to accept himself.
Creating such a personal and taboo work in the DRC has itself been challenging. This residency in Basel will allow Dorine space to step back from the Congolese context for deep introspection and concentration. There will be a showing of Entre deux: Testament at Kaserne Basel in January 2020.
Dorine shares insight into the project:
In 2017, I went through a long suicidal crisis during which I wrote a farewell letter, a Testament that testified to the social rejection and homophobia I had been facing since childhood. It said how I would have liked things to have been different. The following year, I finally found the courage in me and around me to face my sexuality, my identity and I developed this project around my struggle against homophobia, depression and acceptance of my sexuality: Entre deux III: Testament.
“I am a Congolese citizen, I am an artist, I am sissy… and homosexual.” Having been able to say this around me and to remember it every day saved my life despite the aggressions and rejections I still experience. I am who I am, it took me years to accept it despite all the mental and physical barriers that society has built around me in the name of religious beliefs, moral laws and traditional customs.
In this piece, I evoke this long and painful process, however necessary and liberating, to tell events that have informed my story and gave me roots that today are simply bringing meaning to the pursuing of my existence, as a human being, as an artist. Is it a duty of remembrance? A saving necessity? Probably both. So here is my Testament, dance and song to be reborn and regain a taste for life.
Yes, this solo is definitely a dance and a song of acceptance, a step in my fight against homophobia, an assumed and necessary risk-taking, a sign for LGBT people who suffer in silence, a highlighting of this taboo subject in my society, the beginning of my new life, and undeniably an important turning point in my career as an emerging choreographer. It is also a cry, a roar, a breath, a prayer, a trial, a confession, a wish, a relief and therapy. It’s all that and much more.
PHOTOS FROM THE RESIDENCY
RECORDING OF DEBUT SHOWING AT KASERNE BASEL JANUARY 2020