The artist Bintou Dembélé began dancing in 1985, digging into the underground grooves of street culture, clubbing, and the first dance challenges. As one of the major figures of Hip-Hop in France, Bintou Dembélé illuminates and follows a unique artistic line that emerges from the culture of dissent emanating from the margins.
One of the defining features of Bintou Dembélé’s work is the way it draws together artistic creation and academic research. She has enlisted the help of university professors Isabelle Launay (Université Paris VIII, The Project of the Collective Book), Mame-Fatou Niang (Carnegie Mellon University, Center for Black Europe and the Atlantic) and Noémie N’Diaye (University of Chicago, Black Baroque Laboratory) to inscribe what she calls Maroon Dance and thought into the history of popular culture.
She has set out to embody this culture, forged off the beaten path, to bring forth a new esthetic that is gaining in influence. In 2002, she created the company Rualité to develop her artistic approach. Her first solo “Mon appart’ en dit long” (“My apart’ speaks volumes”) launched Maroon Dance. Her next pieces — Z.H., S/T/R/A/T/E/S-Quartet, The Syndrome of the Initiated, Rite of passage || Solo2, G.R.O.O.V.E. — summon dance, music, voice, and visual arts to explore peripheries, and ritual and bodily memories. In parallel, she has expanded her artistic practice through collaborations with artists from other disciplines, including the photographer Denis Darzacq (“The Fall” [Série La Chute]), the poet Grands Corps Malade (the « Roméo kiffe Juliette » music video), and the filmmaker Yolande Zauberman (the music video for « Révélations Césars 2021 »). In 2016, she met writer Dénètem Touam Bona who encouraged her to extend the notion of marronage into the arts. In 2017, the visual artist Clément Cogitore called on Bintou Dembélé to choreograph the short film « Les Indes Galantes » by Jean-Philippe Rameau, which went viral on the National Opera’s digital platform « 3e Scène ». To mark its 350th anniversary, l’Opéra National de Paris (National Opera of Paris) commissioned the duo to reimagine the entirety of Rameau’s opera-ballet that would be performed on the Opéra Bastille’s stage.
Bintou Dembélé’s work has been featured at the Palace of the Porte Dorée (during the European Night of Museums), the T2G-CDN (Théâtre de Gennevilliers—National Dramatic Center), the Centre Prompidou (as part of “Les mondes de”/”Worlds of” series), and the Museum of Quai Branly. She is one of the ten international artists chosen to participate in the ten-year anniversary of the Centre Pompidou-Metz.
From 2020 to 2022, Cathy Bouvard, co-director of the Ateliers Médicis (Clichy- sous-bois), invited her to be an associated artist and to join the directors in mapping the evolution of the Center’s project leading up to 2025. In 2021, she was selected for a writing residence at the Villa Medici in Rome. She was also the inaugural artist at the Villa Albertine in Chicago.
In 2022, she received the Prize for Choreography from the Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers (SACD—Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques).