What do you get when you combine one French man with an innovative vision for dance, circus skills, martial arts, hip-hop, and a group of street dancers from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil? The answer is Compagnie Käfig, an edgy dance troupe that is impressive in performance and virtuosic in various ways.
Mourad Merzouki founded the company in 1996 to pursue his vision of dance based on embracing various elements of full-body movement and other elements. Merzouki studied martial and circus arts from a very young age before he discovered hip-hop culture and started dancing. His style emerges from this diverse intertwinement of inspirations. With a career spanning 16 years, Merzouki is both prolific and established as a choreographer in both France and internationally. He has directed the Centre Choréographique National de Créteil et du Val-de-Marne (National Choreographic Center of Créteil et Val de Marne) since 2009.
Making it’s Minnesota debut at Northrop on Tuesday, March 10, Compagnie Käfig will perform “Correria Agwa”, a fused evening-length work of “Correria” (running), originally produced in 2010, and “Agwa” (water), produced in 2008 as Merzouki’s first piece with the 11 male dancers. The work is highly physical and stuffed with energy and invention. Merzouki’s choreography highlights the athleticism and stamina of his dancers in a breadth of hip-hop vocabulary, including impressive head spins and flips done on a dime. The dancers also have a great sense of timing, which Merzouki utilizes in sections of the work where the dancers contribute to the rhythm by beating on the stage floor in unison.
The powerful ensemble articulates the standards of hip-hop while adding the flare of Merzouki’s other areas of interest and experience. The dancers isolate- robotically moving their arms and legs crisply-or they undulate their limbs with an unending bonelessness, defying gravity by achieving inverted positions, both on the floor and in the air. One section of the work is performed in the midst of 100 stacked plastic glasses on the stage, showcasing the precision with which the dancers execute their moves. The physical fervor of the performance is irresistible, but also touches on movement creation and innovation, important in the larger context of contemporary dance today.
The company from Brazil exhibits theatrical intelligence and is gifted with irresistible personality and astonishing dancing. Bursting with fun, humor, and vitality, Compagnie Käfig is a celebration of life and dance that you will not want to miss! Perhaps more than any other dance performance, the overwhelming necessity in Compagnie Käfig is to connect. These dancers not only do away with the fourth wall, but they seem to dismantle the proscenium frame while they’re at it.
Watch the video here.
Compagnie Käfig will perform at Northrop on Tuesday, March 10 at 7:30 pm. A performance preview will be held in the Best Buy Theater at 6:15 pm the night of show, which provides an opportunity to discuss and learn more about the evening’s program with artistic director Mourad Merzouki and his choreographic assistant Astrid Toledo.