Performative fiction about the “dance epidemic” in Madagascar

Documentary fiction, prepared by choreographer Simona Deconescu in collaboration with Malagasy choreographer and cultural activist Gabi Saranovi, and starring artists Haja Saranovy, Simona Dabiga and Maria Luisa Demolescu.

Ramanijana deals with one of the world’s largest “dance epidemics”, which occurred in Madagascar in 1863, when European colonization made its presence on the island, and Radama II, son of Queen Ranavalona I, who ruled for 33 years, succeeded her on the throne and repealed most of her mother’s strict laws against occupation Alien and Christianity.

The event, which has been described as a phenomenon in which thousands of people dance in a coma from February to May, ended abruptly the day after King Radama II was assassinated by the nobles. Choked in his sleep, he presented his death to the people as suicide, and his wife who took the throne made a deal with the nobles and ministers of Madagascar to lead the country in cooperation with the government.

Ramanijana is considered a taboo subject in Madagascar to this day, in scientific studies as mass hysteria, mass hysteria, political gesture, or act of rebellion by dancing against French colonialism.

The RAMANENJANA show, where three languages ​​are spoken and contradictory testimonies about dance, disease and revolution are commented, joins and discusses several versions of the same historical event, questioning the role of dance in society. He works closely with ethnomusicologist and musician Olympello Ricci on fictional texts inspired by the writings of Andrew Davidson, William Ellis, Mark Vinaz, Andrianjanvi and J. Gestures, movements and voices in Christina Melia’s costumes.

The RAMANENJANA show has a futuristic vibe, with costumes by Romanian scenographer Cristina Melia created by recycled technique, while the language of the dance, based on a mixture of political gestures and African dance, calls into question the reception of the Ramanengana phenomenon in Western culture. From a healing ritual to a communal dance, it spreads like an epidemic.

Combining performative and multimedia elements, fact and fiction, archival documents and contemporary testimonies, the presentation takes place in a comfortable setting, open to debate and discussion.

This new performance, presented under the tutelage of the famous French choreographer Mathilde Meunier, continues choreographer Simona D’Connescu’s research on “historical dance epidemics”, a research that began last year with COREOMANIACII, a performance on the dance epidemic in Strasbourg of 1518, considered , in 2022, is part of the popular Aerowaves group, addressed to 20 promising young choreographers of Europe.

Two conferences dedicated to RAMANENJANA will be held in Bucharest:

  • 29.03.2022 | 19:30 | Bucharest National Dance Center – RAMANENJANA, from research to presentation, conference and open discussion with Simona Deconescu and Mathilde Meunier. During the event organized with the support French Institute of RomaniaThe two artists will address the phenomenon Ramaninajana As a possible way to study politically and socially engaged contemporary dance, as well as the challenges of exploring such a topic on stage, in the current international context.

  • 12.04.2022 | 18:00 | Goethe suite – Ramaningana, Diary of a performance collaboration between Europe and AfricaAnd the Conference and project presentation with Simona Deaconescu. At the Goethe-Pavilion Conference, the choreographer will present the results of his research during his stay in Madagascar, and how he reached out to the local community to find out the origin of the phenomenon. Ramaninganathe way he developed and coordinated the project, in the complex international context of such an approach.

show ramanijana It will be presented in August in Durban (South Africa) and Maputo (Mozambique) as part of the Jumba Selection! Experience contemporary dance and in September and October in Antananarivo, Magunga and Diego Suarez (Madagascar), as part of the ITROTA International Dance Festival.


RAMANENJANA is a cultural project produced by the Tangaj Collective, in co-production with the Bucharest National Center for Dance and Prediction, co-financed by the Administration of the National Cultural Fund*. RAMANENJANA is supported by Goethe-Institut Bucharest, Institut Francais de Romania, Romanian Cultural Institute, Institut Français de South Africa, /SAC@MALMAISON, Grizzly Film in partnership with Institut Francais de Madagascar, Goethe-Zentrum Antananarivo ITROTA International Dance Festival, Gomba ! Contemporary dance experience.

Simona Deconescu She is a Romanian choreographer working in multiple disciplines, on the border between show, installation, and film. Simona examines social constructs, between fantasy and reality, sometimes with irony and dark humour. He completed his BA and MA studies at the Department of Choreography at the National University of Theater and Film in Bucharest. She has been awarded the Vienna danceWEB Scholarship (2014), Bucharest National Dance Center Award (2016), nominated as Aerowaves Artist in 2018 and 2022 and Springboard Danse Montréal Emerging Choreographer in 2019. For the past two years, she has been artist-in-residence on Moving Number Projects European and biological friction. In 2022, Minty Stokes was an Associate Artist at the National Dance Center in Bucharest. His work has been selected and exhibited at famous festivals, dance and theater scene, cinemas, galleries, museums and architectural sites, reaching audiences in Europe and North and South America. In 2014, she founded her own dance company, Tangaj Collective, and since 2015 she is the co-founder and artistic director of the Bucharest International Dance Film Festival.

Gabe Saranovy She is a Dancer, Choreographer and Artistic Director at ITROTRA Art X Connection. Saranovi lives and works between South Africa and Madagascar. He was awarded the Knight’s Medal in Arts, Letters and Culture by the French government.

Saranovy is one of Madagascar’s most influential dance pioneers. He developed a new strategic concept of cultural policy that benefited the people of Madagascar and opened the door for many Malagasy artists. In July 2020, he received the Standard Bank Ovation Award with CORPS/BODY, choreographed by Moeketsi Koena. As a promoter of Malagasy art, Gabi Saranovy has performed on extensive national and international tours, such as Asian Improvisation (KR), Tanz M Auguste (DE), Montpellier Dance Festival (French) and Dance Umbrella Africa (SA). He has also taught at several prestigious dance schools, including the National Conservatory of Music and Dance in Paris, the Regional Conservatory of Reunion Island, and the Bern Conservatory.

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