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A Choreographic Exploration Of Le Commerce Triangulaire

A Choreographic Exploration of le commerce triangulaire is a student-led dance project supported by the French Embassy that uses French texts as the basis for creating movement and introducing new audiences to French culture and history.

Taylor Watts, a French and Anthropology double major at Grinnell College, was selected in December 2015 amongst the 10 finalists of the France on Campus Award. This program of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy celebrates and supports student-led projects that explore French culture in new and creative ways.

“A Choreographic Exploration of le commerce triangulaire”, Watts’ project, is a dance performance set to an original sound score using excerpts from works of Haitian, Guadeloupian, and Martiniquais authors: Cahier d'un retour au pays natal by Aimé Césaire, Failles by Yanick Lahens, L'esclave vieil homme et le molosse by Patrick Chamoiseau, Le Livre d'Emma by Marie-Célie Agnant, and Moi, Tituba sorcière by Maryse Condé. Excerpts were recorded by French-speaking students and faculty on campus.

The idea for this project began when Watts studied abroad in Nantes, France, and became interested in Nantes' history and subsequent recognition of their role in the transatlantic slave trade. After studying Caribbean Francophone literature on the subject, she founded “Choreography for Thought” to create movement in response to influential texts on colonialism and slavery.

Last February, Watts successfully launched a fundraising campaign for this project with the support of Kickstarter, the Embassy’s partner for the France on Campus Award. On May 3rd, she performed to a crowd of more than a hundred people. The performance was part of a larger educational project co-organized with the university’s French department, including talks by visiting French Professor Linda Brindeau and Ivanka Hahnenberger, a professional translator, a dramatic reading of La Couleur de l’aube by Pascale Julio, a Haitian stage actress, as well as a series of round table discussions.

Watts’ performance will be touring in other universities and Alliances françaises of the Midwest in the months to come with the help of the Cultural Services in Chicago. The French Embassy is proud to be supporting this successful and extremely creative project.