In the heart of the Nigerien Sahel, far off the beaten "asphalt" track, thousands of Fulbe Wodaabe nomads gather every year for a gigantic ceremony named the geerewol.
For seven full days and nights, following the solar cycle, two lineages are opposed in a genuine ritual war, with for only weapons song and dance.
The stakes of war, the clear challenge: stealing women.
The ultimate purpose: to break in peace after having mutually expressed recognition of cultural conformity.
According to the Wodaabes, giving up these ceremonies - the only gathering where community links are woven - would entail their dissolution as an original cultural entity.
But the ecological crisis striking Sahel makes the organization of such gatherings more and more difficult.
As a result of ten years' research and friendship, the film is based on an active listening of the ritual's protagonists : fearing that the tradition may die out, they chose to tell us their experiences and their understanding of the event.
Their words gradually shed a whole new light on the ritual and sumptuous choreographic cycle that plays out before our eyes.
'Dance with the Wodaabes' is my first documentary. It was finished in January 2010.
The film won the first prize Nanook-Jean Rouch at the 'Festival International Jean Rouch 2010' in Paris and the second prize at the 'Festival du Film de chercheur 2010'.
Sandrine Loncke is an Ethnomusicologist! [ This is what I have always inspired to become! Glenn ]