A discussion with the committed dancer Lucas Katangila
Could you introduce?
I am a Congolese dancer, choreographer, performer and activist living in Brussels. With my artistic activities, I want to bring people together, share dance styles from different cultures around the world and contribute to a united Africa from the center to the east, from the south to North Africa and Europe.
How was your first encounter with dance?
I come from a family of artists descending from King Katangila who was my grandfather (King Katangila was king King of Ufamandu village, king of tembo tribe, elephant hunters). My first encounter with dance was when I was six years old.
How did your entourage welcome this passion?
My entourage had no problem with my enthusiasm for dancing, apart from a few people who had no knowledge of art. Very early, I took my passion seriously with a clear idea of the path I wanted to take. With my determination, everyone understood who I was and accepted my passion.
What was your journey ?
My first dance school is actually the traditional Mboka dance troupe, created by my grandfather. I learned everything there and it’s a great source of inspiration. I joined the Académie des Beaux Arts in Brussels where I took art and choreography courses.
I have worked with several world-renowned choreographers such as Nicola Ayoub, Marco Torrice, Louise Vannest and many others … I have danced for several dance companies in Africa and in Europe.
What does dancing bring to you?
Dancing brings me peace and joy. When I dance I breathe, I live, I feel free. It is also for me a weapon to fight against evil and to convey a message. For me, dance is a bridge capable of bringing together two worlds in conflict; it is also a message for the voices of the voiceless, a tunnel which connects me with my ancestors…. In short, dance brings me life!
Could you tell us about your commitment to the DRC?
My engagement for the DRC focuses on the Kivu-east of the DRC in Goma, my hometown, still nicknamed the red zone because of the still ongoing political war and the enrollment of children in the army. This scandal is still not condemned by our government because of political interests and globalization. For them, the people do not count. A woman is raped every second and no one talks about it. There is no access to education, nor to health. There is neither drinking water nor electricity, although this country is rich in natural resources. Children are forced to work day and night in the coltan mines.
My dream is to build a space for all the young people of Congo thirsty for art where they can express themselves and make their voices heard through dance, drawing, poetry and writing… Creating a space for dance and a theater would be a consecration.
Do you go back often?
It’s been a while since I went back. It is true that I miss my family as well as my friends but, with the war and the insecurity, as an artist I fear to walk in the lion’s den. I denounce injustices and shenanigans so I don’t know what could happen to me. I really wish to return one day to a country at peace and not at war. I know Congo will change one day and it will be my paradise!
What are your current projects?
I work on several solo projects like for example “Ndoto” (or dream) which has just won the Roel Vernier Prijs Award belgium 2020 (Het theater Festival) on tour. Video
Another solo project is “The President’s Jacket, Xenophobia and Sex Freedom”.
I am also in several creations of international choreographies such as “9 Forays” by Louise Vannest, “East African Boléro” by Wesley Ruzibiza, “Melting Pot Dance Practice” by Marco Torrice, “Dolce Notte” by Shelbatra Jashari, and several current creations with my Planet Slayers Company.
I am artistic director of Mboka Dance Cie where I also work on projects with other activist artists.
Lucas Katangila on instagram