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DanceHouse Producer Jim Smith sheds light on Hervé Koubi’s ‘What the day owes to the night’

Compagnie Hervé Kombi. Photo: Sylvain Marchou Chaine.

Upon his father’s deathbed, choreographer Hervé Koubi learned late in his 25th year that his family’s origins were not from France but Algeria. This dramatic revelation opened the door to Africa for him in a poetic quest of rediscovery and search for his family’s roots.

As part of this journey, Koubi auditioned dancers to create a work that would reveal his story. His all-male dance company members hail from Algeria, except one from Burkina Faso. The auditions in Algeria attracted 249 men and only one woman: their style of dance, primarily hip hop and capoeira, had to be practiced on the street and after hours, which, in Algeria, is reportedly not a friendly setting for women. Twelve men were chosen and with these “found brothers” he developed ‘Ce que le jour doit à la nuit’ or ‘What the day owes to the night’.

The work takes its title from a 2008 novel by Yasmina Khadra (pen name of Algerian army officer Mohammed Moulessehoul). The novel tells the tale about a conflicted young Algerian during his country’s war for independence, during Algeria’s transition from colonialism to independence. Its central tenet is the importance of brotherhood.

Compagnie Hervé Kombi. Photo: Sylvain Marchou Chaine.

Like Khadra’s novel, Koubi’s dance explores the difficulty of finding a personal voice amidst historical and political tension, a displacement of identity from the legacy of colonialism, and the unstable results of forcibly mixed cultural forms. Given the mobility and migration of people in our current times, this work resonates with richness and complexity.

‘What the day owes to the night’ is fluid and muscular, the peaceful meeting place of acrobatic jumps and Sufi-like whirling against a score that combines Bach, Hamza El Din and the Kronos Quartet. Its stylistic diversity points to the migration of African dance, westward and back again. Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 10.17.41 AM

Compagnie Hervé Koubi’s What the day owes to the night will be performed at Vancouver Playhouse on April 7 & 8 at 8:00pm. Get your tickets here. Join the free dialogue at the Speaking of Dance Conversations on April 4. More info here.

Jim Smith is the Producer and Co-founder of DanceHouse. DanceHouse is committed to presenting diverse local, national and international artists and arts organizations engaged in innovative artistic endeavours. In addition, Smith is also the producer for several Vancouver dance troupes: Company 605, Kidd Pivot, Les Productions Figlio, Vision Impure and Wen Wei Dance.