From Haiti to Mali, Kettly Noël’s transgressive dance


[Many thanks to Alanna Lockward for bringing this item to our attention.] Pierre Lepidi (Le Monde) reviews Haitian actress, dancer, and choreographer, Kettly Noël, recently took part in the debate on gender at the third edition of Les Voix d’Orléans (where a group of intellectuals and artists from the Francophone world are discussing the topic of “Progress,” Orléans, France; April 5-7). Lepidi focuses on her role as the Vodoun priestess Zabou in Abderrahmane Sissako’s film Timbuktu:

Portrait. Zabou makes you smile, but she can also inspire fear. There is a subtle mix of fragility, unconsciousness, strength, and courage. In Timbuktu, the Mauritanian filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako’s masterpiece, which won seven Césars in 2015, including Best Film and Best Director, Kettly Noël plays Zabou, a small, mysterious woman with a troubling look and shaggy hair. As she is a bit disjointed, she is allowed to transgress all the prohibitions dictated by sharia law. Therefore, she smokes, she sings, makes herself up, dances … Kind of Vodoun poet, she even insults the jihadists who reign in Timbuktu, in the center of Mali, without provoking their hatred. “Connards!” [roughly translates as ‘assholes’] is the first word she utters in the film, as she looks at them straight in the eyes.

Kettly Noël is an actress and choreographer who will be present at the 3rd edition of Les Voix d’Orléans, Friday, April 6, where she will participate in the debate on “the progress of gender.” The dancer is a raw energy, a living force. But behind this rebellious character, there is also great sensitivity. “Like Zabou, Kettly is a defiant woman who does not allow herself to be confined,” says Abderrahmane Sissako. [. . .]

[Excerpts translated by Ivette Romero. Read full article at]

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