Transe – Stambeli of Tunis

Amir ElSaffar

This project aims to temporarily revive the practice of Stambeli, the trance music of Tunisia that has origins in subsaharan Africa. After months of travel around Tunisia, in Morocco, and Mali, ElSaffar formed a team of 12 musicians, all of whom practice some version of a trance ritual music that goes back hundreds of years. These musicians rehearsed in Tunis for two weeks, then in October performed over six consecutive days on the streets of the old Medina of Tunis for the Dream City Festival. In 2020, Transe will travel to Europe, with performances in Amsterdam, Marseille, and Aix-en-Provence.

Here is a clip from rehearsals at the Stambeli Residency in September 2019:

Through a collective ritualistic practice open to participation and integration, this project strives to address the page of human history that is slavery and unequal power dynamics, by creating a unique space for meaningful interactions between peoples, beliefs, histories and aesthetics of sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa, creating the conditions for collective healing and the reconstitution of lost connections.