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OzAsia Festival Presents What The Day Owes To The Night: Review

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by Tema (subscribe)
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Unspoken poetry in motion
Photo credit: Olivier Soulie


What The Day Owes To The Night stands to represent the unexpected yet beautiful collision of cultures hailing from the East and the West, which has been experienced first-hand by choreographer Hervé Koubi, who was born and raised in France, but at the age of 25, found out about his untapped ancestral roots from Algeria.

Kicking off the grandeur of the show in the lush amphitheater of the Dunstan Playhouse at the Adelaide Festival Centre, we were greeted by the man himself - Hervé Koubi - who was able to instantly captivate his audience with his short and sweet introduction to the show, with a warm and heartfelt glimpse into his journey of being raised in Cannes and then embarking on a journey towards his father's revelation of him having ancestral ties to the North African country of Algeria.

Marrying the concepts of modern upbringings with more traditional values, we were invigorated with what I'd like to think of as unspoken poetry in motion, where 12 bare-chested male dancers presented with soft movements that were accentuated by their outfit choice, which was a combination of white skirts and trousers. The show demonstrated the sheer agility and strength of male dancers from the Mediterranean Basin (Algeria, Morocco, France, Italy, Israel, and Palestine), who were able to whisk away the audience into just over an hour of a flawless performance that incorporated elements of Sufi whirling, breakdancing, ballet, and gymnastics. Through their brilliant execution of synchronization and choreography, we were made to experience a water ripple effect through the movement of the dancers' bodies and their outfits, as if they were based in a desert or an oasis with soft sand dunes (reminiscent of the Arabian culture in Koubi's heritage). The haze and light effects further channeled the vibe of each 'part' of the show, where we were treated to a visual and non-verbal representation of the Arabian, Jewish, and Christian influences that have shaped Koubi to become the culturally diverse individual that he is today.

We were graced with the male dancers displaying an entry-level skill of contemporary dance, physical theatre, warrior culture and capoeir that left the audience speechless, by showing us a side of masculinity that deserves to be celebrated a lot more. With their visually-striking head spinning, cartwheeling, and their full-body flips mid-air that strongly replicated a hip-hop vibe to the soulful, haunting, and adrenaline-inducing soundtrack with Bach, Sufi rhythms and Egyptian influences, we were left entranced by the elegance with which each dancer's movement incited a sense of urgency, power, and camaraderie. This also contributed towards the blurring of any aspects of separation or segregation and instead, brought about a sense of freedom and unity by admiring what makes us as unique as we are.

Photo credit: Liliana Mora


Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the show, but not only because of the incredible athleticism of the highly skilled and talented dancers, but also because I was so moved by Koubi's story that inspired this show. As someone who comes from a Middle Eastern background with Asian roots, this show deeply delved into the lesser-talked-about topics around the constant exploration of one's identity and how the merging of two very distinct cultures can almost throw you into a state of displacement, when it comes to discussing your origins with people from other cultures. The nostalgic soundtrack and the movements of the dancers, particularly with the Sufi rhythms hit a note so close to home that I forgot that I was in Australia for a very brief moment. Having lived in a different society and culture for nearly 10 years, I have lost touch with my origins and culture almost entirely - through no one else's fault but my own. However, this show resonated with me in a way that I didn't think possible - it gave me a sense of appreciating where we come from and how it's important to never lose sight of that very core concept that has shaped us to become the individuals that we are today.

Koubi has cleverly crafted a show that beautifully represents his journey around tumbling between two very distinct yet two very powerful lines of ancestry, through the exploration of how acquainting with a new culture, whilst being instilled with the morales of another culture can cause a collision and, subsequently, a formation of an entirely new perspective on their identity. The raw and unabridged non-verbal storytelling of Koubi's journey of rediscovering himself through his newly acquired knowledge of ancestral roots gives his audience with a brilliant little glimpse of how he overcame this surprising revelation of being part of a culture unbeknown to him for the a majority of his lifetime. Through the dreamy soundscape that accompanies a cast of dancers with excellent strength and captivating energy that defies all the laws of gravity, we are reminded that our cultures aren't something that divides us, but instead brings us together and that we are all human, no matter where we live in this world. The standing ovation by the audience at the end of the show should also give you further proof that it was so well-received for many wonderful reasons and it is truly an iconic showcase of this year's OzAsia Festival that shouldn't be missed, if you can help it.

Date attended: 22/10/2019
Overall rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★★


What The Day Owes To The Night will be performing at the Dunstan Playhouse in the Adelaide Festival Centre, as part of the annual OzAsia Festival on October 23, 2019 at 7pm.

Book your tix to What The Day Owes To The Night's final show tonight here.

If you are interested in the story behind their successful show, a link to their Q and A can be found here.

With thanks to the Adelaide Festival Centre.
Tema was invited as a guest.


Photo credit: Nathalie Sternalski
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Why? Contemporary dancing choreography at its absolute finest.
When: OzAsia Festival: Oct 22 - 23
Where: Dustan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre
Cost: $35 - $65
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