How they achieved verticality – interview with Käfig’s ‘Vertikal’ dancers

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Photograph: Laurent Philippe

Before the performance of Mourad Merzouki’s brand new, gravity-defying show, ‘Vertikal’, I spoke to two of the performers from Merzouki’s company, Käfig. Vincent ‘Keys’ Lafif is a break dancer, and Pauline Journe originally trained as a jazz dancer, before turning to contemporary age 20. Having also done a lot of gymnastics, she tries to mix different styles of dance and acrobatics, and to take inspiration where she can, to create her own style. I realised during the performance, that this is what many of the ‘Vertikal’ dancers have done – they each have their own distinct, individual style, but come together surprisingly beautifully. Continue reading

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From the best of European ballet to Benjamin Millepied’s L.A. Dance Project – an interview with Axel Ibot and Patricia Zhou

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L.A. Dance Project in Justin Peck’s ‘Murder Ballads’. Photograph: Rose Eichenbaum

American Patricia Zhou and Axel Ibot, who is French, both have very classical backgrounds. The former has danced with the Royal Ballet and the Staatsballett-Berlin, and the latter was “Sujet” in the Paris Opera Ballet before he left to join Benjamin Millepied – French choreographer, ex-director of the Paris Opera Ballet, and founder of the L.A. Dance Project – in Los Angeles.

I wondered what edged them both towards this new beginning in a smaller-sized contemporary company. Continue reading

‘Romeo and Juliet’ reimagined by Adrienne Canterna with the Bad Boys of Dance ~ review and interview

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Adrienne Canterna and Eric Lehn as Juliet and Count Paris in ‘Romeo and Juliet’

In her ‘Romeo and Juliet’, first created in 2013 and starring the Bad Boys of Dance, Adrienne Canterna breaks the rules of traditional ballet. This fresh and exciting version of Shakespeare’s tragedy reaches out to a wide audience, combining classical ballet with modern dance and even hip-hop. Continue reading

Ailey’s young talent ~ an interview with Ailey II’s Yazzmeen Laidler and Adrien Picaut

It was a pleasure to interview young and ambitious Ailey II dancers Yazzmeen Laidler and Adrien Picaut, who talked to me about their personal experience and being a part of the prestigious Ailey II company.

Yazzmeen graduated from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. After auditioning for the first company, she was invited by artistic director Troy Powell to audition for Ailey II, the second company; she is now in her second and final year there. Continue reading

The pioneers of contemporary ice skating – an interview with Le Patin Libre’s Alexandre Hamel

Le Patin Libre at Alexandra Palace, part of Dance Umbrella 2014.
Pictured front left: Alexandre Hamel in ‘Vertical Influences’, photograph by Alicia Clarke for Dance Umbrella – taken at the London world premiere in October 2014

After contemporary ice skating company Le Patin Libre’s incredible performance of ‘Vertical Influences’, founder Alexandre Hamel kindly talked to me about the group’s story, their work and ambitions, and the challenges they face…

Like most people in Canada, Alexandre began ice-skating at a very young age – unusually for a boy, it was figure skating, not ice hockey, he got into. After 17 years of competitions and rigorous training, Alexandre decided to rebel… Continue reading

Interview with Mourad Merzouki ~ English version

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Mourad Merzouki – copyright Michel Cavalca

Mourad Merzouki is a French hip-hop dancer and choreographer. He is the founder of the Käfig dance company, and the current director of the Centre Chorégraphique National de Créteil et du Val-de-Marne, near Paris. During this phone interview I learned about Mourad’s roots, what inspires him, the way he works… But above all, I learned about the beautiful message he strives to convey through his choreography. Continue reading

Interview avec Mourad Merzouki ~ version française

Mourad Merzouki est un danseur et chorégraphe de hip-hop français. Il est fondateur de sa compagnie Käfig, et actuellement à la direction du Centre Chorégraphique National de Créteil et du Val-de-Marne. Dans cet interview téléphonique j’ai pu découvrir ses racines, ses sources d’inspiration, son travail au quotidien… Mais surtout, j’ai pu découvrir le message incroyable qu’il souhaite faire passer à travers ses spectacles et chorégraphies.

Mourad est entré de le hip-hop totalement par hasard. Il a commencé le karaté et la boxe à l’âge de sept ans dans une école d’arts martiaux parce que son père voulait. Continue reading