What were your thoughts about The Nile Project’s performance? Share your feedback about the musicians, their instruments, and their amazing collaborative work across the 11 countries bordering the Nile.
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.
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.
“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” – Victor Hugo
The Nile River, the longest in the world, makes its way through 11 different countries, each with its own songs, dances, languages, and traditions. The river is vital to life in the region, but it also is a huge source of conflict. How should the water be used? Who gets to decide? While these issues have been discussed and argued over for years, other problems, including pollution, an ever-growing population of users, and global warming, have been largely ignored.
How do you inspire these different river regions to come together and preserve this important part of their lives? The answer’s simple, according to The Nile Project: music.
Music means something different to everyone. However, it can unite us in ways that words alone cannot. Mixing sounds, instruments, and dances from the different countries along the world’s longest river, the Project hopes to use a new, unified sound to create a shared Nile identity.
Audiences can expect some familiar instrumental sounds, such as the violin and bass guitar, but can also expect to experience many new sounds as well. Some of the ensemble’s instruments that I’m particularly excited to hear include the Ethiopian Masenko (similar to a spike fiddle), the Ugandan Adungu (similar to a lyre), and the pan-Nile percussion section. In addition, six vocalists will be singing in 11 different languages.
I think the themes and goals of The Nile Project will make this performance different from any other at Northrop. The level of passion that these artists carry is inspiring. The hope of overcoming differences and eliminating borders is something that we all strive for in our own lives, so I’m grateful that the company is coming to Northrop to share their message.
Be sure to get your tickets now to see The Nile Project perform at Northrop on Tue, Feb 24 at 7:00 pm!
Last year, Northrop was the host of many arts installations and activities for Northern Spark. From dusk to dawn, committed Twin Citians overcame dark and rainy skies to participate in experimental performances, giant video projections, and unique encounters with local artists and their work.
One very memorable project asked participants of Ananya Dance Theatre’s Blue Dream Journeys to write down a dream of theirs before entering our Hubbard Broadcasting Rehearsal Studio. Inside, dreamers were engulfed by a strong communal energy created through dance and live music. A cloudscape installation hovered over a tub of water in which their written dream was placed. The scene was magical.
On the fourth level of Northrop in the Best Buy Theater, Spark-goers heard a musical piece consisting of a simple theme played 840 times in succession. Simultaneously in the historic Memorial Hall, a troupe performed traditional Japanese music, permeating Northrop with meditative harmonies. One of my personal favorites was Fruit Orchestra! Through the simple action of touching an orange, banana, or other fruit, my co-workers and I created a full-on orchestra. My fascination with this exhibit may have had to do with the fact that it was 3:00 am at the time; as you can imagine, I was a little loopy.
The call for 2015 projects at Northrop is now open and information on how to submit your project for consideration is below. I encourage artists of all genres to submit a proposal to connect arts with audiences in one of Northrop’s many spaces for this year’s Northern Spark.
Call for Submissions: Northern Spark 2015
Northrop and resident partners request submissions for Northern Spark projects
All submissions are due by Monday, February 16, 2015 at 6:00 pm.
On June 13-14, 2015, the University of Minnesota East Bank will be one of five zones for the all-night Northern Spark Festival, showcasing University and community artists who will bring to life the concepts that make Northern Spark unique: nighttime, light, participation, innovative art, unique memories, and communities.
Northrop, the Institute for Advanced Study, the University Honors Program, and the College of Design Traveler’s Innovation Lab invite artists, creative minds and performing groups of all genres to submit applications for project space in Northrop and on the plaza during this year’s festival.
Projects will be selected by a panel comprised of Northrop resident departments and will be assigned a location as part of the selection. If your project requires a specific location in Northrop, please include this in your project description.
To have your project considered for inclusion in the Northern Spark activities that will take place at Northrop, please submit a proposal that includes the following information:
Project Leader Contact Name and information:
Organization/Department (if relevant):
Title of project/performance/activity:
Description of project/performance/activity (150 words):
Brief explanation of how your submission fits the missions of Northern Spark, Northrop, and/or the University of Minnesota (150 words.):
List of props, instruments, equipment or furnishings you will provide/bring into the building:
List of props, instruments, equipment or furnishings that need to be provided on site:
Technical assistance needed to set up or run your event:
House management/ushering or crowd control needed to run your event:
Total amount of time needed to set-up your event:
Does your project have a specific start/end time? Does it run continuously?
Total amount of time needed to tear down/strike/clean-up your event:
If you require fee support to present/perform your project, please include a budget outlining your needs. [Note that, while there is a possibility of some small stipends earmarked for University of Minnesota artists, no funding is guaranteed].
Please include a diagram of your project set-up, and photos if available, and also indicate that you have read the Northrop guidelines here.
Projects selected for the Festival will be announced by March 1, 2015. Selected projects will have 10 days to submit brief descriptions for Northern Spark communications deadlines in mid-March.