Girls Dakh | Resist, away from Ukraine

Refugees in France, Ukrainian “cabaret freak” group will perform on Thursday at the opening of 38AND Victoriaville International Festival of Contemporary Music

Posted at 07:00.

Jean-Christophe Laurence

Jean-Christophe Laurence

(Paris) It is not because they fled Ukraine that they have stopped fighting. In opposite. For Dakh girls, exile is now synonymous with resistance. Rehearsals on stage Thursday, at the opening of 38AND Victoriaville International Festival of Contemporary Music (FIMAV).

It has been more than two months since the six musicians left Kiev. Accompanied by their children, mothers and mothers-in-law, they took refuge in the Virre of Normandy, in a small theater that offered them shelter, while their fathers, brothers and husbands remained in Ukraine to wage war.

Dramatic situation, as for the millions of other Ukrainian families who fled the country in disaster.

However, we feel no discouragement from the two members of this atypical musical group we meet that afternoon in a beautiful Parisian café. More fighters than victims, Ganna Nikitina and Ruslana Khazipova clench their fists, raise their index fingers, curse Vladimir Putin and swear they will one day return home.

Of course there is concern. They admit that they check their phones “a hundred times a day” for information. But the news is rarely good. Four days before our meeting, they learned like everyone else the atrocities committed by the Russian army in Boutcha and were visibly shocked by it.

But it is not about crying about their fate. The fire of optimism and the desire for justice burns in them. A fire that, apparently, nothing can extinguish.

“We are a dignified people … Resistance is in our genetic code,” says Ruslana, the band’s drummer, simply, under her little top, her glasses and her Ukrainian stylist coat.


Girls Dakh

fight out

One can hardly imagine the frictions and instances of conscience when it came time to go into exile. Leaving the country in times of crisis is heartbreaking, especially when leaving behind a part of the family …

But after two weeks of hesitation, feeling the growing fear and weighing the pros and cons, it became clear to Dakh Daughters that the best way to take part in the war effort would be to perform on foreign stages. . Of which act.

“We have a voice. “And if we have the opportunity to show the world all the horrors that are happening in our country, we have to do it,” said Ganna, guitarist.

Ruslana goes further. For him, the Dakh Daughters are nothing less than cultural fighters called to fight on the “artistic front”. They do not use weapons like their comrades, but compensate with explosive songs and armored performances dedicated to the Ukrainian cause. “Soldiers are defending our country from within. “We are protecting him from the outside,” she said.

This commitment is nothing new. Born in 2012 from the thighs of the iconic Dakh Theater in Kiev, the Dakh Girls have always had a generation of militants.

But their unique formula has become more radical over time and events. First during the pro-European revolution of 2013, then with the Russian occupation of Ukraine.


Ganna Nikitina and Ruslana Khazipova, from Dakh Daughters

“Who else? Ruslana asks. If you want to change something with your art, it is impossible not to be political.”

Their songs come from Ukrainian soil, which in itself is a statement. The texts, adapted in a contemporary way or borrowed from various poets, speak of democracy, freedom, love and hate or the future of a nation in search of emancipation. The music is inspired by local folklore, but also by jazz, avant-garde, rock.

Splinter Concerts

As for their concerts streaming, located halfway between music and theater, they are often described as “weird cabaret” where 1930s Berlin, the punk spirit of the Sex Pistols, old, new, cracks and faces painted white. “We do not know where the border is. “We are open to all new opportunities, to all new doors.”

We will see what happens on Thursday at FIMAV, for this show postponed last year due to the pandemic. The two musicians announce an adapted version of their concept, with sound montages and artistic videos that explicitly refer to current events. There is no doubt that their message will be clear and high.

After this? The Dakh Daughters will then embark on a tour of the United States, before returning to Europe, where their schedule is full until 2023.

In the long run, on the other hand, it is still unknown. As long as this war lasts, the Dakh Daughters will continue to wage their war “from outside.”

“We are used to being on the road. But this is the first time we have been on tour as refugees, says Ganna. Normally, we always know when we are going home. But this time we do not know. It’s terrible … ”

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