Programmed by Lysa Heurtier Manzanares
After an absence of more than ten years, Lasseindra Ninja, an icon of the militant, vogue LGBTQ scene, returns to train young dancers in French Guiana, the country of her birth. By instilling in them an attitude and state of mind based on self-assertion, she offers them the tools to resist the hostility of the world around them. Developed in New York’s underground clubs in the 1980s, voguing has given black, Latino and LGBTQIA+ communities a safe place to express themselves in danced sparring matches.
“Be more visible!” Lasseindra tells three teenage homosexuals who are wondering how to create a gay community in French Guiana. But being visible is frightening, and for good reason – it can be dangerous… but what else can they do? It’s also the advice she gives all the young students at her masterclass. Voguing is about attracting attention, making an entrance, being desired and behaving like someone important. It wrong-foots the image society has of these black, queer, homosexual, poor people and their bodies, discriminated against, mistreated and rejected. These are the bodies that the French-Guianese director Audrey Jean-Baptiste gets to express themselves in her film – these timid teenagers’ bodies that unfold, Lasseindra’s body as she remembers the culture she was forced to flee to become what she is – a rough, tough, fabulous woman!
Lysa Heurtier Manzanares