18 — 22.05.2022
The Éléphant of Bouchra Ouizguen is a collective body. Its fragmented existence is brought forth by the movements of four dancers on stage, who give their identity and voice to it. They oscillate between strength and fragility, creating something that is continuously on the verge of disappearing; they might appear as a reminder of a fragilized present, as the elephant itself, which could be mostly extinct by the end of the next decade. Born in Ouarzazate, Bouchra Ouizguen is one of the leading figures in contemporary dance and choreography in Morocco, where she has been committed to developing a local choreographic scene. After the birds of Corbeaux, one of the highlights of Kunstenfestivaldesarts 2015 and which, from there, was brought to different parts of the world, Bouchra Ouizguen comes back to Brussels with the première of her new creation. By exploring the richness of the oral skills of the interpreters, she constructs a fascinating choreography in the form of a concert, where the movements coexist with voices and drums: a monochromic song that, little by little, unfolds itself into a more colourful landscape. Ultimately, Éléphant shares with us the question of how to keep hope in the face of the disappearance of things.
In Éléphant, Bouchra Ouizguen continues to probe and question the human in us with the strength of the body’s presence, its thickness, its blossoming, its windings and contestations in the cultural manifestations it carries and that have shaped it since a time before time…
Nevertheless, this new creation is definitely distinct from the choreographer’s earlier works through new stan-ces where, alongside a new artistic team, she is asserting her desire for a more radical exploration.
Accompanied by singers and musicians from the Moroccan folk tradition and longstanding collaborators, Bouchra Ouizguen is looking for new (dis)equilibriums with a novel casting that, without meddling, confronts very clearly defined universes and imaginary worlds.
Radically exploring sound for the first time – only live – through voices and percussion handled powerfully and with such ease by Moroccan performers, Bouchra Ouizguen invites us to return to the emotions and raw sounds that appear to come from a time immemorial. The songs are blended with shouts, groans and tears and seem to emanate from an ancient chorus whose deafening noise summons up a procession of buried memories.
Sometimes simple and restrained, sometimes with outbursts and fury, the difference is magnified, received like a gift whose precious and subversive nature Bouchra Ouizguen is keen to reveal within the individual and collective alike. The Company’s artists go to great lengths to convey this power, progressing a little more deeply towards the human in each of us – where the collective and the exchange give meaning to humankind’s interiority.
“I pass by this house, Layla’s house,
And I kiss this wall and that wall.
It is not love for the house that has taken my heart
But for the One who dwells in that house.”
“In a quiet time run through the tortuous meanderings of your being
Shout out loud the similarities and differences, as strongly as the sun
Sing out the impossible thoughts born out of idleness
Think of the beautiful! Think of the ugly! Think of the places and the norms and the laws!
While waiting for the next rages of the wind.”
- Song to the Indian, Khireddine Mourad
Although I’ve been creating shows for years, I’m continually wondering whether it’s right to continue along this path and stage a piece. While the answer is far from clear, it’s nevertheless these very doubts that make me want to keep continuing along this path of creation. Notions of the unknown, of dreams, of frailty, of truths and of masks that are at the heart of existence keep contaminating my choreographic process and feeding into my creative imagination. A piece emerges as much from the void and silence as it does from the chaos of my mind and the doubts that fill it… The whole challenge then consists of gradually and collectively making my way towards a form that I hope still retains a sense of freedom.
I initially devised Éléphant for the extraordinary men and women that I might meet in the street or on a journey. They echo the ordinary heroes – farmers, gardeners and cleaners – who populate my everyday life. They are first and foremost performers in the company, experienced artists from the folk tradition who I’ve met in southern Morocco over the years and who have inspired me ever since.
What would we be without people of all ages and times passing through? Trial and error and progression are both an individual and collective adventure. Difference, friction with the unknown, risks taken and the choice of a shared destiny feed into this individual quest in the same way as each person’s nature and environments, whether real or imagined. It’s in the dust, with birds, in forests, deserts, cabarets and the street that others inspire me.
Sound and music are part of this dreamt mythology, magically summoning up temporal spaces that, depending on how things go, have the tendency to disappear for good: songs and music from the Moroccan folk repertoire brought back to life by a chorus of musicians through the ages…
Éléphant is a continuation of my creations. It’s also a start, a kind of hope when everything around us is tending to disappear. I’m looking for what is conveyed, for what speaks of humanity. A collective act where there could be a progression towards the self without disowning humankind.
- Bouchra Ouizguen
Presentation: Kunstenfestivaldesarts, De Kriekelaar
Artistic direction: Bouchra Ouizguen | Dancers, singers: Milouda El Maataoui, Bouchra Ouizguen, Halima Sahmoud, Joséphine Tilloy | Light design: Sylvie Mélis | Production, Administration: Mylène Gaillon
Production: Compagnie O | With the support of Fondation d’entreprise Hermès in the frame of New Settings Program
Coproduction: Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Festival Montpellier Danse, Festival d’Automne à Paris, Les Spectacles vivants – Centre Pompidou, Wiener Festwochen, ERT Emilia Romagna Teatro, Arab Fund for Art and Culture, HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Kampnagel, Service de Coopération et d’Action Culturelle de l’Ambassade de France au Maroc
Funded by Cultural Foundation – Abu Dhabi