Recently Step X Step Europe went to see a theatre show by Herve Koubi in Bremen, Germany in support of two artists. Houssni Mijem, a dancer from Morocco who is fluent in break, hip hop and house. The other gentleman, Hossaini Zahid is a tricker also from Morocco residing in Spain. Some may know him better as Mr. Power. Having made a promise over two years ago to come and see this company in action, there finally was an opportunity to make good on that promise in May of 2018. It is a piece by choreographer Herve Koubi from Algeria, North Africa.
Cie Herve Koubi is very famous is some circles, but until the connection was made with Houssni through the Hip Hop scene, it wasn’t familiar to Step x Step Dance. Sure enough, it is a pleasure that there is a point of reference, now. The piece that is currently touring is named: Ce que le jour doit à la nuit and features some high caliber street dancers. It has been touring for quite some years with a changing all male cast and has already been shown in Belgium, Italy, Germany, United States, Spain, Canada,France, Russia, Morocco and even some cities in South America.
Not really knowing the context of the piece it was surprising and semi-shocking experience. It started of with a magical play with masks and light. Fittingly, the title of the piece is Ce que le jour doit à la nuit from French translates to: “What the day owes to the night. As the official website states: “It consists of a dreamlike and ‘realistic’ vision which testifies, for Hervé Koubi, of a return to its sources, its Algerian origins, discovered, strangely, at a later point in life.”
“The power that is flowing from their half naked torso’s, the brotherhood shown on stage and therefore the trust between them because of the dangerous tricks and acrobats is gripping. The costumes, the intricacy as well as sometimes the simplicity of the repeating movement, just captures you. Only a simple soul could turn away from such a display.”
Halfway through, it the realization came that they were performing during Ramadan. The month of the fast. That means no water, no food during day-light hours. In their case, since they were now in Europe, it was from about three AM until the next day after nine thirty PM (3.00-21.30hrs). Give or take that is about eighteen hours without nourishment. Astounding. Looking at them, trying to embody their moves and imagining it without breakfast lunch or dinner inside the body and performing for one and a half hours on two hundred percent. Some with injuries even, flying through the air, head spins, freezes and continuously catching someone else’s bodyweight. It got emotional to the point of tears.
“The sheer strength and determination it takes to execute movement on that level calls for the greatest amount of respect, since most of the audience unfortunately, did not realize the ensemble was on their fasting period and was still being effortless without fuel. Fuel from the Earth that is, without a shadow of a doubt this cast was fired up by something else. A belief, a state of mind an uncluttered communication with your own body and it’s capabilities. “
Having spoken to an elderly woman in the ladies room after the show and informing her of this fact, she brought her hands in front her face and said: “No, that cannot be possible! Is that really true?” I confirmed and she continued to urge me: “Please tell them I have the greatest reverence for them, unbelievable. I didn’t think it was possible to hold them in -even- higher esteem.”
Recently as the end of the Ramadan announced itself, the company was performing the piece in Israel. A moment of reflection and appreciation on oneself, the bond and adventures they share together as the performance in Jeruzalem undoubtedly had a greater spiritual significance for each of them.
If there is a chance to witness Cie Herve Koubi somewhere in the world then do not hesitate to do so. In some countries, if you are lucky some of the artists including Herve Koubi are giving workshops as well.
Special thank you to Guillaume Gabriel. All photos via www.herve-koubi.fr
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