White Bird Concludes 14th Season with Europe's Most Acclaimed Hip-Hop Company Compagnie Käfig
WHITE BIRD CONCLUDES ITS 14TH SEASON WITH EUROPE’S MOST ACCLAIMED
HIP-HOP COMPANY, COMPAGNIE KÄFIG, FEATURING 11 EXPLOSIVE MALE DANCERS FROM RIO DE JANIERO.
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AND CHOREOGRAPHER MOURAD MERZOUKI HAS CREATED
TWO SPELLBINDING WORKS TO SHOWCASE THE YOUNG BRAZILIAN MEN’S
ACROBATIC SKILLS AND VIRTUOSITY.
Who: COMPAGNIE KÄFIG CCN Créteil et Val-de-Marne
Presented by: White Bird
When: Wednesday, May 9, 2012, 7:30 pm
Where: Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, Portland
Sponsors: Darci H. Swindells and The Oregonian
Tickets: $26-$64 available at www.whitebird.org and at PCPA Box (ZERO ticket fees). Also available at
1-800-380-3516 (additional fees will apply).
For the latest information, please visit www.whitebird.org
“The best hip-hop show of the past 10 years.” FigaroScope (Paris)
White Bird is excited to conclude its 14th season of contemporary dance with the West Coast debut of Europe’s most acclaimed hip-hop company, Compagnie Käfig CCN Créteil et Val-de-Marne, based at the National Choreographic Center in Créteil and Val de Marne outside Paris. Artistic Director and Choreographer Mourad Merzouki is widely recognized as one of the world’s most gifted choreographers who has fused hip-hop with other disciplines (martial arts, music, visual art) to create work that has excited audiences and critics around the world. White Bird is proud to host the US premiere of two of Merzouki’s most celebrated works, Agwa and Correria, performed by 11 explosive Brazilian male dancers, originating from the favelas (shanty towns) of Rio de Janeiro. When Agwa premiered in Lyon in 2008, Les Echos (Lyon) declared, “Merzouki-style hip hop is on intimate terms with grace, and the Lyon audience is still trembling from the impact.”
An encounter between Mourad Merzouki and 11 young dancers from Rio de Janeiro at the Lyon Dance Biennial in 2006 is the inspiration behind this unique performance. The young dancers’ individual stories about their lives in the favelas and how they were determined to make something of themselves moved Mourad to create two heart-stopping works that showcase the young Brazilian’s astonishing acrobatic skills and dazzling virtuosity. According to Merzouki, “This language – hip-hop – is movement that comes from the streets, from poor neighborhoods, where there is a primordial rage to speak out, to give expression to furious energy, to the fierce desire to live. It is a voluntary act that matures over time, absorbing different schools of thought. Nourished by disparate elements, it becomes not only art but a commitment – to dispense with clichés and conventional thinking and to dismiss bromides about hip-hop as a social movement, in order to establish this language as an art in its own right.”
The first piece on the program for the 11 male dancers, CORRERIA (2010) (“running”) plunges us into a frantic, hectic race just like the one that governs our daily lives, featuring bodies, movement and a show that takes your breath. The second piece AGWA (2008) uses countless cups of water to celebrate what is both a vital component of our bodies and a precious natural resource to be preserved, used with care and as a symbol of renewal. The dancers’ ability to dance through and around these cups is truly astounding. Both pieces bring together complex movement inspired by hip-hop, capoeira, samba, electronic music, and bossa nova to create a dance experience filled with amazing acrobatics, crackling energy, and invention.
Born in Lyon in 1973, Mourad Merzouki began practicing martial arts and circus arts as early as a seven-year-old. At the age of 15, he encountered hip-hop culture for the first time and through it, he discovered dance. He quickly decided to develop this form of street art while also experimenting with other choreographic styles, particularly with Maryse Delente, Jean-François Duroure and Josef Nadj. The wealth of his experiences fed his desire to direct artistic projects, blending hip-hop with other disciplines. In 1989 he, along with a group of dancers, created his first company Accrorap. In 1994 the company performed Athina during Lyon’s Biennial Dance Festival; it was a triumph that brought street dance to the stage.
In order to develop his own artistic style and sensitivity, Merzouki established his own company, Käfig, in 1996 and named it after his first acclaimed work. Käfig means “cage” in Arabic and German and was intended to indicate the choreographer’s receptivity and openness and his refusal to become locked into a single style. In January 2006, Compagnie Käfig began a period of residence at Espace Albert Camus in Bron. The theatre became the venue of the Karavel Festival, created in 2007 under the leadership of Mourad Merzouki. The festival invites some 10 different hip-hop companies and other initiatives to the city. In parallel, Mourad Merzouki spearheaded the inception of a new center for choreographic creation and development: Pôle Pik opened its doors in Bron in 2009.
In June 2009, Mourad Merzouki 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. In 16 years, the choreographer has created 17 shows and his company gives on average 120 performances per year around the world.
Compagnie Käfig is the inspiration of White Bird’s 12th Outreach Project with Portland Public Schools. A multi-disciplinary curriculum called “Hip-Hop In Different Cultures,” created by a group of PPS teachers is now being taught to students in grades 6-12. The Project will culminate with a free performance for 2700 students and teachers by Compagnie Käfig on May 9, 11am, at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.
White Bird’s 14th season (2011-2012) is supported by the Regional Arts & Culture Council and Work for Art, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, The Collins Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Oregon Arts Commission, The Jaffe Foundation, Autzen Foundation, Herbert A. Templeton Foundation, Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust, Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), Starseed Foundation, Jackson Foundation, H.W. Irwin & D.C.H. Irwin Foundation, Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation and Lloyd and Marlene Ankeny Foundation.