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What The Day Owes to The Night - Interview

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by Tema (subscribe)
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Photo credit - Liliana Mora

One of my favourite times of the year is nearly back for another instalment and looking at this year's OzAsia Festival line-up, it only seems to be getting bigger and better!

Hailing from France, a talented team of 12 male dancers will be bringing the show What The Day Owes To The Night for two nights only. A fantastic display of agility, athleticism, breakdancing, warrior culture, contemporary dance, ballet, and gymnastics (to name a few), the show invites their spectators into an intimate exploration of human migration and diverse cultures, through their gravity-defying forms of physical theatre and movement.

Having performed over 300 times worldwide, the show will make its Australian debut in October this year. In anticipation of their upcoming performance as part of OzAsia Festival, I was fortunate to conduct an interview with French-Algerian choreographer Herve Koubi - have a read of our exchange below:

Tema: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Herve: I started my dance studies in Cannes with Michele and Anne-Marie Sanguin, and with Nathalie Crimi. I pursued my development at the international dance school Rosella Hightower in Cannes, then with the Opéra de Marseille where I took a lot of classical ballet classes. In 1999 I joined the Centre Chorégraphique National de Nantes, in 2001 the Centre Chorégraphique National de Caen and in 2003 and 2008 Compagnie Thor in Brussels.
My philosophy about choreography would be that we have to be curious, to be open to the others and without demagogy to be in love with the human being, to be in love. Dance is a declaration of love. To love to share an idea with dancers and then build together a beautiful object of dance full of meaning as if it was the witness of a constructed common thought. To love to share the project by presenting it to the audience on stage. To love to build and create bridges between the company and the audience during other times beside the moment of the performance.

Photo credit - Olivier Soulie

Tema: Who are the key individuals associated with the show?
Herve: The show consists of 12 male dancers from across the Mediterranean Basin: Adil Bousbara, Mohammed Elhilali, Abdelghani Ferradji, Pasquale Fortunato, Zakaria Ghezal, Bendehiba Maamar, Giovanni Martinat, Nadjib Meherhera, Mourad Messaoud, Houssni Mijem, Ismail Oubbajaddi, Oualid Guennoun and El Houssaini Zahid.

Tema: How did this show go from being a concept to a reality?
Herve: I was born in Cannes in France. I knew my parents were born in Algeria, but I thought that I had French roots (Hervé is such a French name). One day, I asked my father where my ancestors came from, which part of France? That day, my father showed me a picture - that of an old man, all dressed in an Arabian style. My father told me: here is your great grandfather, he spoke only Arabic and it's the same thing for all your great grandparents. That was a shock for me. I was not from France but from Algeria. The project What the Day Owes to the Night started that day.

Photo credit: Nathalie Sternalski

Tema: How did you decide on the name of the show? What does it signify and represent?
Herve: For this project, I wanted to make light in the darkness of my history, I wanted to make the day in the night of my past and the only thing I can tell you is that the piece couldn't have another name. I asked Yasmina Khadra to allow me to use his novel's name, and he allowed me to do so.

Tema: How did the team of What The Day Owes To The Night come together to create the show?
Herve: I decided to organize a casting in Algiers in October 2009. I met 250 dancers – 249 male dancers and one girl. Most of the dancers I met had a very good level in dance, especially in hip-hop (breakdance) and Capoeira. There are no dance schools in Algeria. Most of the dancers learnt how to dance by themselves, thanks to videos on the Internet. They train outside, in beaches, in courtyards, on the streets. Before that project, I used to work with male and female dancers, but for this project, I had no choice. With these 12 dancers – I like to call them my 'found brothers' – there has been a choreographic alchemy I can't explain. They respond exactly to what I expect and I love in dance. They are athletes, but I didn't want these athletic skills to eclipse what is more important for me in a choreographic proposal – the meaning.
I went to Algeria to shine a light on my dark (because it was unknown) history. I had to give life to my orientalist dreams, and I had to do it with dance. I had to do it with dancers from Algeria using their specific skills. The youth of Algeria is like that – full of power, and full of dreams also. Our paths crossed to create this unique dance project. The fusion of capoeira and hip-hop is just the result of the meeting with these dancers.

Photo credit: Nathalie Sternalski

Tema: What do you hope for your audience to experience by attending your show?
Herve: I want the audience to be free of feeling what they want. I just would like the audience to be moved by what they see and also invite them to share my vision of a global culture, of a brotherhood beyond frontiers and beliefs.

What the Day Owes to the Night will be performing at the Dunstan Playhouse of the Adelaide Festival Centre, as part of the OzAsia Festival, on October 22 and October 23, 2019 at 7pm (both days). Book your tix here.

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Why? It's a show tackling a personal exploration of human migration and different cultures through the art of dance
When: OzAsia Festival - Oct 22/23
Where: Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide SA 5000
Cost: $55
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