From a child circus performer to a now renowned innovator in the world of urban dance, Mourad Merzouki is a man that all fans of dance should get to know. After discovering Hip Hop culture in his teen years, he developed a passion for movement. He grew into a prized choreographer, garnering a multitude of awards/accolades and collaborating with a plethora of artists. Mourad was appointed director of the Centre chorégraphique National de Créteil et du Val-de-Marne. He continues to develop his projects there, with an accent on openness to the world. His dance company, “Käfig”, which formed in 1996, has pioneered the fusion of many chorographic styles/techniques and have performed over 2000 times in 47 countries, 595 cities, for 1 million people. In preparation for Compagnie Kafig’s upcoming World Stage 2012 presentation of Agwa/Correria, we had the opportunity to ask Mourad a few questions. Check out his Interview below.
What was it was that initially sparked your love of hip-hop?
It all started with circus. I was an acrobat and I had a passion for performing arts. Hip-Hop dance allowed me to bring both together. I also had a strong desire to share and introduce this form of art to the public.
What was the creation process of putting these two pieces together?
For this piece, I decided to work on two universal themes concerning both France and Brazil: water and running. This was the starting point, as I wanted to work on a project which was not only linked to what we already know about Brazil, the favelas, etc. Water and Running were very interesting to me because they concern dancers and also the rest of the world. In today’s society, we need to run, and water is a vital element.
Can you explain how you came to meet this group of Brazilian dancers?
I had been introduced to the Brazilian dancers by Guy Darmet, who used to be the Director of the Maison de la Danse in Lyon, and lives between France and Brazil. He knew these dancers very well and as he has been following me for more than twenty years, he asked me to create a piece for them.
Can you talk about your position as head of the National Choreography Centre in Creteil? What does the centre do, and what is your role?
The National choreographic centre of Créteil and Val-de-Marne has three main missions : creating and producing my pieces, welcoming artists and companies in residence – they have access to a studio, tools and means – and working with local audiences. We really aim at sharing dance and opening it to the widest audience. As a Director, I develop and manage these projects with my team, following my artistic vision.
Looking forward, what’s next ?
I am always imagining creations with an accent on openness to the world. I just ended a project with Taiwan, but it’s only the beginning, as the piece Yo Gee Ti will be presented this June in France. I hope to have new projects with other countries, such as Japan, etc. I keep working on opening and sharing my way of dancing – hip-hop -, to other styles and other cultures.
What can Toronto dance lovers look forward to from Compagnie Kafig?
I hope they will spend a great moment of dance with the Brazilian troupe, and that this piece will bring them inspiration, motivation and the willingness to open themselves to the rest of the world.