CriticalDance Forum

Compagnie Kafig
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Author:  Azlan [ Tue Jul 24, 2001 8:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Compagnie Käfig

French hip-hop:

A Spirit of Urban Rebellion and a Celebration of Diversity


BECKET, Mass., July 20 — One of the most innovative troupes on the experimental dance scene is Compagnie Kafig, the French hip-hop group presented here by the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.

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Author:  Basheva [ Sun Sep 09, 2001 5:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Compagnie Kafig

From the New York Times:

From Inner City Moves to Outback Modes

IT may be premature to call Mourad Merzouki the Balanchine of hip-hop. But his Compagnie Käfig from France takes break dancing onto a new and startling level of pure form and classical harmony. <P>Most of the dancers are of North African descent, and it is in the immigrant suburbs of cities like Lyon, where Mr. Merzouki founded Käfig in 1996, that local children have been swept up in hip-hop culture imported from the United States.

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Author:  Marie [ Fri Nov 30, 2001 6:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Compagnie Kafig

Wow, I think it certainly may be "premature to call Mourad Merzouki the Balanchine of hip-hop. As François Dufort of Dfdanse said: "Ceci n'est pas une chorégraphie…"

I saw the show on Wednesday night, and while it was entertaining and the performers are very athletic, it was certainly naive from a choreographic perspective. As my partner commented, it would be a good show for kids.

If a hip-hop recital is what you're looking for this is it. The performers have big grins pasted on their faces throughout the show (where's the street attitude, dudes?). I found this so disappointing because the dancers were strong and I didn't need them to try to "sell" to me like cheerleaders.

Many of the sections start with the performers facing the audience. That's a minor point but it's an indication of Merzouki's relative inexperience as a choregrapher for the stage vs. informal performances in clubs, on the street, etc.

I was curious as to why there was only one woman performing with the group. It really screams 'this is a boys club' which I find kind of irritating since there are many women involved in hip hop. On the plus side (pun intended) was the perfomer "Klown," who must be pushing the scales close to 250.

At the end of the show the dancers stayed on stage and jammed with audience members. It would have been nice for the house lights to come up so that those who wanted to leave could do so.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri May 10, 2002 2:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Compagnie Kafig

A preview article by Lisa Traiger for The Washington Post

FROM Josephine Baker to Jerry Lewis, Levi's to Coca-Cola, the French have long been fascinated by American culture. So, when hip-hop made its way to France in the 1980s and early '90s, a vibrant cultural intermingling ensued. When Lyon's Compagnie Kafig returns to Dance Place Friday with a program of French-accented hip-hop, it brings with it a reimagined and theatricalized vision of the popular form. <P>Company founder and artistic director Mourad Merzouki reports that like most American pop culture exports, the youth-oriented urban idiom came to France by way of television. Speaking through a translator, he explains, "Everybody was talking about it, dancing it. The trend was hip-hop."

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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Wed May 15, 2002 1:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Compagnie Kafig

Kafig: Hip-Hop Way Outside the Box
By Sarah Kaufman for The Washington Post

The French-Algerian hip-hop troupe Compagnie Kafig takes its name from the Arabic word for cage, but it's a misnomer. Uncaged is the image these dancers convey, with their go-for-broke gumption, rubbery acrobatics and pure pleasure in performing. They are, in fact, proof positive that hip-hop is no longer just an American export, that its forms can be endlessly exploded and that its expressive powers are limited only by the imaginations of its practitioners.

And what jaw-dropping fantasies these Lyons-based dancers made real this weekend at Dance Place, in a presentation with the Washington Performing Arts Society.

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Author:  ArtsMan [ Wed Oct 23, 2002 1:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Compagnie Kafig

In the Hartford Courant:

A Dynamic Translation Of Hip-Hop
Urban Blues Flavors French Dance Troupe

By JEFF RIVERS, Courant Staff Writer

The Rolling Stones' recent visit to Connecticut presented a sterling example of the European knack for filtering American popular culture through a continental lens in engaging and exciting ways. more

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun May 01, 2005 2:59 am ]
Post subject: 

Vive la différence
By JACKIE McGLONE for Scotland on Sunday

HIP-HOP with a French accent sounds so unlikely that I forget to ask Mourad Merzouki what the French is for locking, popping, spinning, moonwalking, beat boxing and breaking or, to use the correct technical term, b-boying. The French, as always, must have a word for it, yet surely something is lost in translation?

Not at all, says the artistic director of Compagnie Kafig, a Lyon-based experimental hip-hop troupe that fuse American street-dance with choreographic style.

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Author:  kurinuku [ Mon May 02, 2005 1:00 am ]
Post subject: 

Joined at the hip-hop
by MARY BRENNAN for the Scotland Herald

Visually, musically, we are enticed into a relaxed, magical realm where imagination hangs loose and there's a streetwise, teasing feel to the projections that are constantly fly-posted on the back walls.

published: May 2, 2005

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu May 12, 2005 5:19 am ]
Post subject: 

Compagnie Käfig
By Donald Hutera for The Times

HIP-HOP is holding sway on many UK dance stages this month. There is a veritable invasion of street styles at Sadler’s Wells this coming weekend during the second annual Breakin’ Convention festival.

If you can’t make it to that party, hip-hop dance might still rocket into a venue near you via the UK tour of Corps est Graphique by Compagnie Käfig from France. The punning title is a tip-off to the playful nature of the choreographer Mourad Merzouki’s diverting, hour-long pop fantasy about gender differences.

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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun May 15, 2005 6:20 am ]
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Corps est graphique
Hip-hop has the cool moves, but it’s still no match for a Swan. By David Dougill for The Sunday Times

Käfig (which means cage) is the brainchild of the French-Algerian Mourad Merzouki, whose current show, with the punning title Corps est graphique, draws on the acrobatics of his early circus training, as well as the specialities of various brands of street dance. The programme features an illustrated guide to these moves and grooves. We are familiar with breaking and popping, locking and moonwalk (apparently a misnomer for backslide), but suicide and krumping were new ones to me.

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Author:  kurinuku [ Mon May 16, 2005 12:58 am ]
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So much money, so few ideas
by ISMENE BROWN for the Daily Telegraph

Käfig are one of these dance groups intent on equalising differences in a sort of playschool where boys and girls have the same value, and no one may stun us with their special skill. It makes deadening theatre.

published: May 14, 2005

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon May 16, 2005 2:27 am ]
Post subject: 


Compagnie Kafig, “Corps Est Graphique”, Churchill Theatre, Bromley, England, 13th May, 2005

Compagnie Kafig, the French hip-hop company is currently on a ten venue UK tour, and I caught up with them at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley. The tour is organised by the Dance Consortium, - a successful concept that enriches dance around the country. The Consortium members are 22 theatres from the Scottish Highlands to Cornwall, plus a central administration function. This year, they will bring four companies, including Alvin Ailey, to the UK to perform at various sub-sets of the member theatres. Thus, costs can be shared, companies enjoy the benefit of an artist-friendly, efficient organisation and audiences see work that otherwise might not venture to their area. The organisation receives substantial support from Arts Council England and has an excellent website, well worth a look for its background articles as well as details of the various companies, Heather Knight, one of the leading arts administrators in the UK is shepherding Compagnie Kafig around the country and her devotion to looking after the dancers is clear to see.

Kafig’s “Corps Est Graphique” was innovatory programming for the Churchill Theatre and the management told me they were pleased with the result - a decent, if not full house enjoyed the energy and skill of the dancers and hopefully will return for future dance offerings, which include Nederlands Dans Theater 2.

There’s no question that hip-hop can be both technically demanding and exciting; the problem lies in the transfer from the street or club floor to the stage. Different directors experiment with various approaches; for instance Rennie Harris re-cast the classic romantic tragedy into “Rome and Jules” with interludes for MCs and competitive display. Compagnie Kafig’s eight men and women showcase hip-hop in all its varieties, but set within a tightly choreographed framework, rather than a competition. It’s a cheery, light as a feather show with decent visuals, including duets with pre-recorded material. Initially the dancers wear black and white liquorice head pieces that Artistic Director, Mourad Merzouki told us were intended to draw attention to the body. First we see the four men and then the women and then all eight together and this initial concept worked for a while, but I was relieved when eventually the head dresses came off and we could see their faces - dance needs to be personalised.

In its 60-minutes, there is much ensemble work with good synchronisation as well as solos, all to a recorded North African/hip-hop fusion score that is pleasant, but lacks excitement and variety. And therein lies the central problem of “Corps Est Graphique” – it is over-managed and lacks the sense of danger and surprise that is a powerful component of hip-hop. The women stick mainly to the upright styles, which the excellent programme told me are popping and back-slide, among others. This leaves the men to steal the show with the head spins and other moves that demand such powerful upper bodies, as ballerina Deborah Bull discovered when she tried this dance style. Nevertheless, Ana Ivacheff’s solo on top of a light box showed that she is a musical, sensuous performer and Sadia Lbaz was always fleet of foot. The star was Karim Beddaoudia whose compact shape is a help rather than a hindrance. Apart from extraordinary feats spinning on his head for ever and ever, he has a strong presence and fine comic timing and the show lights up whenever he is on stage.

“Corps Est Graphique” is a creditable exploration of how to set hip-hop on stage and the Bromley fans went away very happy. I look forward to seeing Compagnie Kafig again, but I’ll hope for more edge and a stronger sense of the dance style’s roots.

Author:  Patricia Somerset [ Mon May 16, 2005 11:58 am ]
Post subject: 

"Compagnie Kafig" Churchill Theatre, Friday 13th May. This hour long show was mostly vibrant and exciting, with maybe a brief flatter period in the middle. However, when the hip hop was at its hippest and the spinning at its fastest the performance took off. The music (by AS'N) was great and the costumes just right (Carima Amarouche) and Artistic Director Mourad Merzouki brought a sense of fun to hip hop. The dancers were a pleasure to watch and sometimes we could watch them in two places, both on screen and on stage. I loved it!

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri May 20, 2005 5:34 am ]
Post subject: 

Corps est Graphique
By Thom Dibden for The Stage

Licorice Allsorts and sixpacks are the enduring image from this high tempo display of choreographed hip hop moves.

Martin Lecomte and Stephane Guillemin’s black-box set with four intruding white doorframes and a huge video screen/window, high up on the backcloth, tries hard to be memorable. Mourad Merzouki’s choreography does an innovative job in marshalling the moves into a coherent shape, while the company pulls off some brilliant pieces of dance.

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Author:  Christine de León [ Tue May 24, 2005 12:48 am ]
Post subject:  compagnie kafig

Hello everyone. Sorry this is so late, but better this than never. I first saw Kafig perform Corp est Graphique at last year's Breakin' Convention. In the context of the hip hop extravaganza, they were quite simply, a gem. Fast forward 12 months and their very own venue, that gem failed to sparkle in quite the same way. I'm not entirely sure why it fell so flat, but perhaps the catatonic audience had something to do with it.

That is the trouble you see, when you take something foreign, fresh, new, exciting and performed with unabashed in-your-face showmanship and display to a predominantly middle-aged, middle class, polite English audience . You feel like you're attending someone's wake. Minus the lager. So I'm not surprised at Ismene Brown's venom for this kind of work, she just doesn't get it. Just like middle England didn't get the Sex Pistols. You get me?

Admittedly, Corp est Graphique could have excelled choreographically if some risks were taken in terms of the music. But I liked the licorice all-sort headgear and the North-African infused music because it was something DIFFERENT. Give me this anyday over a badly performed Swan Lake. The only criticism I have of the opening night show, was that while the dancers are all virtuosic, they lack the precision that all good hip hop crews have. It was really annoying to watch the corps work done out of synch, with each diva/maestro trying to out do one another. Given a few more years working as a crew - they could achieve the uniform ensemble work as the Rennie Harris' Puremovment for instance. At the moment, they corps work is not entirely disimilar to the Royal Ballet's corps - both need to whipped into uniformity.

Finally, I do have an issue with Ismene Brown doing a big poo poo over the "cultural diversity" initiatives that venues such as Sadler's Wells take and that companies such as Union Dance have built their reputation on. These are all new areas of dance creation and in this age of experimentation, one is allowed to fail. That is how one learns. Venues such as Sadler's Wells need to programme hip hop because it is where the next generation of theatre-goers are coming from. If one doesn't try to attract them, the theatres will close down and what a sad state of affairs that would be.

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