This documentary by director Audrey Jean-Baptiste is the heartwarming story of a queer French Guiana kid known as Xavier who left his home country as it was impossible to be his true self. He put several thousands miles between his biological family and him and landed in New York, and very quickly found a new queer adopted family in the city’s underground ballroom scene.
Fast forward some 13 years and now transitioned into Lasseindra Ninja , who is now recognised as a star exponent of the art of vogueing, and has established her own House of Ninja in Paris with Madame Stephie Mizrahi.
The movie starts then with Lasseindra’s very first trip home to Guinea for years specifically to help young queer and straight teenagers by tutoring them in the art of voguing. She leads these workshops with good humor and a passionate understanding of the limited opportunities that her students have in this very conservative country.
Each of her willing pupils are overjoyed about this one chance to develop some skills in this dance art form that they take too with big grins on their faces. Lasseindra encourages them to develop their own unique style and attitude., and there is no holding back in their part It’s as much her own lifestyle that the kids admire with the same tenacity that they love her teaching.
It culminates with them all being able to show off their newly acquired skills and talents to their friends and the local community and it is obviously from not only what they display on the dance floor but also on their ecstatic faces, that this has all been a very successful project.
What happens next when Lasseindra returns home complete with the tailored traditional tétèche dress she had made, is not shown in the film, but we are left in no doubt that this interaction have empowered these kids to be able to face the world with their new found confideces,
It’s a tale of love and optimism that is spread not by some well-meaning stranger, but by one of their own. Lasseindra’s own humility is another reason that this journey of hers makes for such compelling viewing.