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Compagnie Kafig

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B) Attended a performance last week of Compagnie Kafig, an Algerian/French group of 8 dancers, founded by Mourad Merzouki, who trained at a circus school. Also brought my 15 yr old daughter who takes hip hop classes - she had high expectations of this group.

It was a one hour performance which attempted to consider where the women fit into the world of hip-hop dance and used calligraphy as the hinge or bridge between the two sexes. Calligraphy was also used in a literal sense on a large box, which in turn became a projection screen, a carousel, a big reverberating drum, a hiding spot, etc. It was very, very clever and very well choreographed with humour, beautiful fluid upper body movement during the hip hop sequences, sychronized break-dancing and very funny sharp comedic moments meshed with the music. The music was instrumental, quirky, sometimes techno, sometimes with Arabic undertones, but always with that underlying beat of street dance.

This was not a night of MTV dance, it was a wonderful hour of Arabic influenced street dance, with powerful dancers who displayed incredible break-dance skills, but also fluid, lyrical moments where the suppleness of the dancers allowed them to intertwine and partner with ease. The women alternated between the "feminine" and the "masculine", so that the question of the role of women in hip hop became irrelevant. I was simply amazed at the sheer physical strength of the female dancers. The male dancers were exceptional, especially one, who had the long lean, well-muscled look of a Cirque du Soleil dancer. He was lithe, but with powerful surges of grace and very fast technical execution.

All of the dancers were involved in this word and dance "play" and in essence, the calligraphy (which the dancers did change around from time to time) and the choreography which initially took part around the letters merged and became one at the end. I would also take this a step further and say that the differences between the male and female hip hop dancers was no longer a question by the end of the dance.

It was definitely not the Ballet, but wow, it was an impressive hour. My daughter was completely awe-struck and said that she would go back to see them in a flash. And she did not say that of any other ballet we enjoyed this year.

I know that they are on a tour, and I would highly recommend this group of young dancers.

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