Following an artistic residency from April 27th to May 5th, in Alexandria, Egypt, the premiere of SHAPERS took place on the esplanade of the Mosque Abu al-Abbas al Mursi during the 7th edition of the Nassim el Raqs festival/laboratory for in situ creation on May 9th, 2017.
The Abu al-Abbas al Mursi Mosque in Alexandria hosts the tomb of Alexandrine Sufi saint of the same name. After having travelled from Al-Andalus to Morocco, he settled in Alexandria, where he died.
Last May, young dancers trained through the SHAPERS project, Ex Nihilo dance company and the Nassim el-Raqs Festival, had the immense honor of being hosted by the Mosque compound to work on the performance. This experience brought to light important stakes raised by contemporary dance in public and unusual spaces in the euro-med zone today. It demonstrated how certain security and contextual issues, no matter how many constraints they can impose on the development of public space creation, can sometimes be overcome by mobilizing local and international teams, through tight cohesion and forceful ground occupation.
Thank to the support of: CCFD Terres Solidaires, B’saria for Art, The Tourism department of the Alexandrian Governorate, The Swedish Institute, The Spain Embassy in Cairo, Ex Nihilo through The French Institute / the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur Region
Special thanks to : Cheikh Gaber and The Mosque Abu el Abbes el Morsi, General Ahmed Hegazy, Yasmine Hussein
Images : Nassim el Raqs video team / Editing : Carole Lorthiois
Momkin – espaces de possibles [Marseille, France] aims at initiating and accompanying artistic and cultural projects within cities and territories across the Mediterranean region, by creating, producing, and performing artistic works, as well as through the development of cultural and intercultural projects, of training programmes and awareness building campaigns. Since 2011, Momkin has carried out the Nassim el Raqs festival, featuring artistic initiatives linked to the city of Alexandria.
All the project partners gathered in Alexandria to see the premiere of the choreographic piece SHAPERS, on the esplanade of the Abu al-Abbas al Mursi mosque during the 7th edition of the in situ creation laboratory Nassim el Raqs May 9th 2017.
Following a series of workshop auditions from April 2016 to January 2017, eight young dancers from Egypt, France, Spain and Morocco participated in this training programme for professional dancers.
The dancer Emma Riba came to join and supplement the team as a substitute dancer in October 2017.
Born in 1991, in Cairo, Egypt, Ahmed Shamel Azmy became interested in dancing at a very young age, practicing Hip Hop at home, using YouTube and other media to improve his skills. By the age of 21, he was accepted into the Cairo Contemporary Dance Center, where he had the opportunity to work with various choreographers such as Christian Ubl, Arno Schuitmarker and Libertad Pozo. Ahmed is also a member of Swaggers Crew with experience in street dance and Krump.
Throughout the SHAPERS project, Ahmed was intrigued by the concept of movement and how to become a stronger mover rather than a stronger dancer. He uses practices such as ‘animal flow’ as inspiration along with a variety of other physical practices to explore his body and capabilities, a concept he wishes to popularize in Egypt’s dance community.
Shady Abdelrahman is a young artist, actor, dancer, pantomime artist, and clown. Since 2007 he has acted in many theatrical performances, short films, and television shows. He participated in the 2015-2016 studio ZAT actor preparation workshop with Shady Khalaf and Ahmed Kamal.
With a dance background in ‘popping’, Shady’s relationship with contemporary dance began in Karima Mansour’s workshop in 2011, before joining the Cairo Contemporary Dance Center’s Professional training program (2012-2015). During his studies, he was selected to attend the Henny Jurriens scholarship program in Amsterdam. In addition to working and touring with many choreographers and companies, Shady is working on his own projects as a director and choreographer.
A dancer and circus artist, specialized in Chinese pole, Mourad Koula was trained at Shems’y National Circus School in Salé, Morocco. He has worked with many directors and choreographers: Sylvie Guillermin, Guillaume Bertrand, Juha Marsalo, Thierry Poquet, Jawad Essounani, Anne Le Batard, Jean Antoine Bigot, and Samuel Tétreault.
His solo Shkoun ana, has been shown many times in Morocco and France. Mourad has performed in: Karacena Festival in Salé (2012 & 2014), Sacred World Music Festival in Fès (2013 & 2014), Fatw’art Festival in Casablanca (2013, 2014 & 2015), Nassim el Raqs in Alexandria (2015), Street art and circus Festival of Agadir (2015), Chalon dans la rue in France (2015), Mes de danza festival in Seville (in 2016), Crolles circus festival in France (2016), and the dance festival On marche in Marrakech (2017). He is currently creating new performances such as Error 404 with the Wajdins cie and Youness Essafy.
A circus artist and dancer, Ayoub Kerkal began training in the renowned Shems’y National Circus School in Salé, Morocco, in 2011. Since 2012, he returned to this first passion, contemporary dance, working with choreographers such as Mic Guillaumes, Thomas Huert, and the company Ex Nihilo.
In 2013, he became a member of the parkour company Accroche-toi, as a dancer and circus artist. Ayoub has participated in festivals such as the Biennale of Circus Arts in Karacena (2012 & 2015), as well as multiple dance festivals: On Marche in Morocco, Nassim el Raqs in Egypt, and Zvrk Festival in Bosnia Herzegovina.
Lucia Bocanegra was born in Seville in 1997. She started dancing at the Endanza space in Seville in 2000. Before entering the Professional Dance Conservatory, she also took classes at the Performing Arts Center of Seville. Lucia chose to specialize in contemporary dance in 2015, and was selected by the CAD (Andalusian Dance Center) to train. In addition, she has participated in the creation of various short pieces, such as Seenpro (2015), Soulviewer, the conservatory’s 2015 end of the year piece, and the trio Nudas (2016). Lucia also performed the solo Gnosis, for the CAD 2015 tour and Salafuera within the cultural collaboration of the 2016 Noche en Blanco in Seville. From 2016 to 2018, she joined the team of the Euro-Mediterranean Project SHAPERS with the company Ex Nihilo.
Elvira Balboa finished her professional dance studies in 2017 at the Royal Contemporary Dance School Reina Sofia. She is currently a part of the Euro-Mediterranean project SHAPERS, directed by the French Company Ex Nihilo. She is continuing her graduate studies in dance at the Theater Institute of Barcelona.
Elvi is a dancer and choreographer in the company Land Lab Project and CIA la Coet. In 2015 she participated in the project Let’s Dance directed by Trinidad Castillo, a student of Pina Bausch. From 2012 to 2016 she created and organized the project Danzamatique(micro, macro, perfodanza) in Granada.
Natacha Kierbel was born in Paris in 1995. She trained at the Conservatoire Régional de Paris. In addition, she studied Literature and Theatre at Sorbonne Nouvelle University and trained at the International Acting School of Paris. In 2014, Natacha joined the Geneva Junior Ballet, where she danced the repertoire from Aleksander Ekman, Hofesh Shechter, Roy Assaf, Barak Marshall, Sharon Eyal, Adonis Foniadakis, and Kaori Ito among others. Since graduating in 2016, Natacha has worked with the company Ex Nihilo for the Euro-Mediterranean project in public space SHAPERS, choreographed by Anne Le Batard and toured in Morocco, Egypt, Spain, and Bosnia. She has also worked with the stage director Robert Carsen at the Opera of Lausanne and with the company Karine Saporta.
Aurore Allo studied contemporary dance in Paris and Belgium. She has worked for different projects in France and abroad as a dancer and choreographer. She believes in art in public space as a way to communicate with audiences in a common and publicly used area.
Aurore is interested in working with dance and art as a tool for social mediation, specifically with children and disabled people.
Born in Andorra in 1990, Emma Riba studied contemporary dance in different schools in Barcelona, finishing her studies in Salzburg at the SEAD academy where she learned from dancers and choreographers such as Edivaldo Ernesto, Rootlessroots, Milan Tomasik, and others. Since 2016, she has worked with choreographers like Willi Dorner, Zsuzsa Rozsavolgyi, Helena Pellisé, and has collaborated as a substitute in the Euro-Mediterranean Project SHAPERS with the Ex Nihilo company. She is currently a member of the Spanish company Cielo Ras0. In 2017, she created the dance collective US BACK IN TOWN together with Laura Alcalà. They work not only in the creation field but also to promote dance and creation as tools for social mediation. They have worked with amateurs in schools as well as with disabled people.
Created in 2012, the association Momkin – espaces de possibles aims to initiate and support atypical and innovative artistic and cultural projects in cooperation with Mediterranean cities and territories, by supporting the creation, production and dissemination of artistic works, the design of cultural and intercultural cooperation projects, as well as the development of training and awareness activities.
The in-situ creation laboratory, Nassim el Raqs, organized by Momkin, offers artistic initiatives in interaction with the city of Alexandria every year since 2011.
Emilie Petit, founder of Momkin – espaces de possibles, is a visual artist living and working between Marseilles and Alexandria. Starting from a personal artistic practice based on the experience of geography, developed since 2001 after graduating from the School of Fine Arts in Bordeaux, Emilie Petit has since developed experimental collaborative projects initiating creative processes in atypical and innovative territories and spaces.
With a desire to impose experimentation, research and creation in a changing city and in a changing political context, Nassim el Raqs -a laboratory for in situ artistic creation- proposes to open new creative and production frameworks for artists in Alexandria, by inviting them to seize pieces of city to question their practices, their desires, their impulses, their gestures in unpredictable and innovative working contexts.
The project welcomes Egyptian and international artists each year to take over various symbolical locations throughout the city and transform them into unusual venues for performance. Although mainly based on contemporary dancers and choreographers, the project also involves multidisciplinary arts.
Since 2011, Nassim el Raqs hosted more than 20 original performances by artists from Egypt, France, Germany, Ivory Coast, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and USA. The performances and activities were attended by more than 4,000 people.
Centre Rézodanse – Egypte is an independent cultural centre dedicated to the promotion and the development of dance in Alexandria. Founded in 2008 by Lucien Arino, it is registered in Egypt as a limited liability company, and is based in Alexandria, Egypt.
Rézodanse is unique in the way it combines in one location a space for training as well as a place where several artistic and cultural projects are developed and implemented. Through its activities, Rézodanse defends and promotes dance as a valuable and respectable art form deeply rooted in the Egyptian heritage.
We believe that dance has a role to play in education and that its development in Egypt contributes to the cultural diversity of the Egyptian society and to building our country’s lively and vibrant art scene.
Convinced of the role of dance in education, we believe that its development and enhancement in Egypt must contribute to the affirmation of the cultural diversity of Egyptian society and the emergence of an artistic scene of great vitality.
A workshop and audition took place from April 16th to 20th and 22nd to 26th in Alexandria (Egypt), within the Nassim el Raqs laboratory for in situ creations. The workshop was led by Anne Le Batard, Jean-Antoine Bigot and Corinne Pontana from the Ex Nihilo dance company. Following the workshop, two Egyptian dancers were selected during an audition for the training program designed around the creation of the choreographic piece SHAPERS.
The two dancers selected for the project in Egypt:
Momkin – espaces de possibles [Marseilles, France] aims at initiating and accompanying artistic and cultural projects within cities and territories across the Mediterranean region, by creating, producing, and performing artistic works, as well as through the development of cultural and intercultural projects, of training programmes and awareness building campaigns. Since 2011, Momkin has carried out the Nassim el Raqs festival, featuring artistic initiatives linked to the city of Alexandria. www.momkin.co
With Jean Antoine Bigot, Shahd el Khattabi, and the dancers participating in the SHAPERS workshop and audition.
Nassim El Raqs #6 Teaser : Sarah Limorté, mediator of Momkin – espaces de possibles and coordinator of the training program for volunteers of the Nassim el-Raqs festival.
Images: Nassim el-raqs festival volunteers team.
Following this workshop, two Egyptian dancers were selected for the creation of the choreographic piece, SHAPERS.
Nassim el Raqs is a festival in Alexandria, Egypt, in which artists are invited to take over a location in Alexandria and to develop a piece of work from the meeting between their art and the city. Although mainly based in contemporary dance, Nassim el Raqs also involves artists from different disciplines such as visual arts, sound composition, and theater.
Concept design / filming protocole: Nicolas Bôle, Djela Samba.
Post production: Nicolas Bôle
Filming the environment, looking at the city we are in
The ‘square of the 7 lamp posts’ is a key place in the history of the festival Nassim el Raqs. The company Ex Nihilo created the performance Mashy in 2013, and since, we call the garage and its surrounding area “Garage Mashy”.
Its inhabitants and workers have become friends and accomplices since that moment. Washing the tires to prepare them for our work, giving advice on the choreography, setting up the space to make the work easier, the Garage Mashy has become one of the most enjoyable places for creation or for rehearsals for Nassim el raqs and Ex Nihilo.
The festival Nassim El Raqs and the dance company Ex Nihilo have cooperated since the first edition of the festival in 2011, exploring new territories for choreographic creation in the city of Alexandria. Every year, they experimented with new methods to teach young Egyptian dancers.
The creation of four solos
Following an initial encounter at l’Espace Darja, in Casablanca, Meryem Jazouli invited two Moroccan dancers to participate in the project in Alexandria put in place by Nassim el Raqs : 4 solos. This project invited two Egyptain dancers and two Moroccan dancers to work on their solos in situ with artistic accompaniment led by Anne Le Batard, Jean-Antoine Bigot and Corinne Pontana from the Ex Nihilo danse company, in April and May 2015.
After 3 weeks of work in situ on naval construction site Anfouchi port, a performance with the 4 young dancers Shahd el Khattabi, Ehab Mustafa, Mourad Koula and Nabil Najihi, as well as Corinne Pontana and Jean-Antoine Bigot was presented during the festival Nassim al Raqs #5.
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Photo credit : Nisrine Chiba and Ex Nihilo
Choreography and dance: Shahd el Khattabi, Ehab Mustafa, Mourad Koula and Nabil Najihi, accompanied by Jean-Antoine Bigot, Corinne Pontana, and Anne Le Batard, from the Ex Nihilo company.