• Dance

Never Twenty One

Showing on Jan 19-21

Playing at Scotiabank Dance Centre

A dancer in black pants stands facing away from the camera, arms gesturing. The room is darkly lit, highlighting their bare back and arms which are covered in white-painted testimonials of the families of young Black men who have been victims of gun violence.

Smaïl Kanouté / Compagnie Vivons! (France)

Smaïl Kanouté’s dance production is a lament, a tribute and a protest. It takes its name from the hashtag #Never21–a reference to Black men who have lost their lives to gun violence before reaching 21 years of age. The show pays homage to the memory of Black men in New York, Rio de Janeiro and Johannesburg who have died from shootings.

On a darkened stage, three men move with a style that applies the urban idioms of krump, popping, baile funk and passinho to contemporary dance. Each man’s body is inscribed with the words of victims’ families–words of praise, of sorrow, of grief. The dancing is effusive yet finely calibrated, with beautiful, forcefully symbolic movements. In its reference to individual lives, Never Twenty One has a heartbreaking specificity; as a political act, it has a global reach.

Production Company: Live! Co-production: Les Ateliers Médicis, Clichy-sous-Bois / Espace 1789, subsidized dance stage, Saint-Ouen / The International Choreographic Meetings of Seine-Saint-Denis / Centquatre- Paris / Théâtre de la Ville, Expanded Dance 2020, Corporate Foundation Hermès

Support: Île-de-France Regional Department of Cultural Affairs / Île-de-France Region / Department of Seine-Saint-Denis / City of Paris / Adami / Spedidam / Caisse des Dépôts Acknowledgments Théâtre de la Ville-Les Abbesses , Paris / Center national de la danse, Pantin / Mains d’oeuvres, Saint-Ouen / House of amateur artistic practices (MPAA), Paris / Artists’ initiatives in urban dances (IADU), Fondation de France, La Villette 2021

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Artist Bio

Smaïl Kanouté

French-Malian artist Smaïl Kanouté is based in Paris. His work spans the disciplines of dance, graphic design, choreography and cinema. Kanouté is a graduate of the École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, and has performed at the Basilica and the Institute of Islamic Cultures, among other notable venues.


Scotiabank Dance Centre

677 Davie Street, Vancouver


  • January 19 at 8:00
  • January 20 at 8:00
  • January 21 at 8:00

Runtime: 60 mins, no intermission

Content Advisory

Strobe lights


Single Tickets: $34
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ASL interpretation on Jan 21


Choreography Smaïl Kanouté Body painting Lorella Disez Assistant choreographer Moustapha Ziane Scenography and light design Olivier Brichet Sound design Paul Lajus Light manager Josselin Allaire Costumes Rachel Boa and Ornella Maris With Aston Bonaparte , Salomon Mpondo-Dicka and Smaïl Kanouté