Vocals: Léandre and the Craft of Dance
Vocals is the voice, but also the artistry. We wanted to allow artists, whether lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, gender non-conforming, intersex, or beyond to fully express themselves, share their experiences, heritage, and relationship with the LGBTQIA+ community around them. This video series serves as a portrait of a young and determined generation, filled to the brim with stories waiting to be told.
Meet Léandre, a Parisian-born, Colombian dancer and teacher. After having taught in Poland and Shanghai, Léandre currently lives, studies, and instructs in Saint-Denis, France.
In 2013, over 30% of residents in Saint-Denis identified as foreigners. The exact demographics of these communities—due to the country’s culture and politics of color-blindness—are difficult to come by. The national census, for example, does not record the religion, race, or ethnicity of the population. Yet, the denial of race has not halted discrimination, nor has it put a stop to racial and economic segregation. Non-European immigrants, 30% of which come from northern Africa, are relegated to the peripheries of Paris to places like Saint-Denis where they face physical, social, and economic isolation. In addition to segregation, residents of the banlieues are often specifically targeted by law enforcement: In a study conducted by France's National Center for Scientific Research, people perceived as Black were 11.5 times more likely to be stopped by police than whites, while those perceived to be of Arab origin were 7 times more likely.
Saint-Denis, in particular, has been at the center of significant turmoil for some time. The 2005 riots began in the town of Clichy-Sous-Bois after the accidental death of two teenagers who were fleeing police. In 2015, police conducted a seven-hour long raid in search of terror suspects. And in early February, civil unrest broke out in Aulnay-sous-Bois, sparked by the arrest of a young black man by officers who allegedly sexually assaulted him with a police truncheon.
In light of all this, we chose to showcase the persistence, creativity, and humanity of those living in this suburb by allowing their narratives to take center stage.