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Compagnie Käfig

April 21, 2012

Correria and Agwa

Reviewed April 20, 2012

NAC Theatre, Ottawa

The second of two works of serious urban dance art by Algerian-French choreographer Mourad Merzouki performed at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa this week is brilliant. Brilliant for its harmony and tight co-operation amongst the dancers, and brilliant for its energy and innovative use of props. Agwa (or Water) was first produced by France’s fusion hip-hop Compagnie Käfig for the 2008 Biennale de la Danse in Merzouki’s home town of Lyon, France, and featured 11 young self-taught Brazilian dancers.

Käfig dancers perform Agwa, Photograph by Michel Cavalca

The rush of water trickles through AS’N’s electronic and bossa nova-tinged soundscape accompanying the 30-minute work. Appropriate, because the work is about water and its preciousness. The 11 male dancers have the fluidity of Merzouki’s vision down flat. They are fearless, engaging, and inspirational. With an in-your-face kind of acrobatic physicality, these men transport us to another world, all while defiantly maneuvering their frames through more than a hundred glasses of water, laid out in precise parallel lines on the stage.

The water is an integral part of the dance. It pours, it drips, it spills and it satiates. A great climax, one dancer spins furiously around on his head while the plastic glasses are tossed into the air like so many scraps of paper. Bringing it to a close, the dancers lay prone on their stomachs at the front of the stage, lined up precisely each in front of a glass of water. Yoann Tivoli has created a fascinating play of light on the dancers’ hands as they interact with the glasses of water. The piece ends with the dancers drinking the water and a roar of approval from a packed house.

The opening piece, Correria, is a kind of foreshadowing of the piece that follows. It introduces us to the 11 impassioned and instinctive dancers and the troupe’s unique way of presenting Merzouki’s creative spirit. Produced in 2010 by Compagnie Käfig and the Centre Chorégraphique National de Créteil et du Val-de-Marne, which Merzouki heads, Correria is about running — about the constant movement of today’s world. They run, in circles, on their backs, upside down, sideways, in the arms of other dancers, in hypnotic slow motion, or with additional leg props.

An eclectic and somewhat exotic musical arrangement by AS’N or the rhythmic slapping of the dancers’ hands on the stage pace the “scenes” of the half-hour work through comedy, pensiveness and pure entertainment.

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From → Contemporary

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