Sunday, July 10, 2005

(D) July 7, 2005 - (ADF) Compagnie Kafig

Assignment: Review Compagnie Kafig - free
Deadline: By 10am Thursday
Choreographer: Mourad Merzouki
Venue: Reynolds Industries Theater, American Dance Festival
Date: 7 July 2005
Title(s): Recital


French hip hop on American soil – it was clearly home ground disadvantage for Compagnie Kafig, a French hip hop company who performed Recital at the Reynolds Industries Theater, American Dance Festival 2005 (ADF 2005). The performance, which premiered in France in 1998, was revised for this years’ festival.

Kafig has a few things going against them though. Hip hop, which has African roots, was developed and commercialised by Americans, and hence the home team feels a sense of ownership for the genre. It is possible that some of the audience would bring their bias to court. And, hip hop is offseason – its glory days were in the 1980s and 1990s.

But the show goes on for choreographer and dancer Mourad Merzouki. Recital attempts to fuse hip hop with classical concerto - solo dance tamed for group unison. Merzouki puts five dancers in t-shirt and track bottom with music stands, violins and violin cases on the same stage - the match is odd and the clash, obvious.

Merzouki has moved hip hop from street to stage. He’s progressed beyond boom-box technology and cardboard boxes to using multimedia, stage technology, props and costume.

Lighting designer Yoann Tivoli let a bat-shaped light flutter above the stage and spotlighted the six music stands, one at a time, that were on the V-shaped catwalk outlined on the black floor. Using lighting effects and the black backdrop, Tivoli also made the mysterious hooded man at the valley of the “V” appear and disappear. By simply darkening the entire stage and having lights come out of violin cases, the genie-in-a-violin-case illusion was created when opening and closing the cases.

The performance did not progress well from here. Kafig’s hip hoppers in tuxedo coats and violins (and pretending to play it) looked little more than back-up dancers for classical pop artist Vanessa Mae. Recital hit a sour note when MC French Idol in spacesuit waxed piped lyrical into his talk box.

Thankfully, there are parts of the choreography where Merzouki strips down the spectacle to show more form and technique.

Retaining the element of rivalry in hip hop, the dancers get to improvise and outdo each other with freestyle hip hop, breakdance and street dance styles. The group proved themselves competent dancers, gymnasts and acrobats when they performed physically demanding feats (headspins, handsprings, body flips, etc.) and imitated robots (isolating body movements) with great ease.

But even this part became predictable after a while.

The whistle blows on them half time. Kafig needs to re-evaluate hip hop in today’s’ environment. But there’s still time for them to make good.

(456 words)
The No-Mercy Peer Review
1st para - 2nd sentence - replace "The performance" with "Recital"
2nd para - replce "them" with "it"; place "which has African roots" after " Americans" to change the emphasis; 3rd sentence - HH still lives!!
3rd para - end of 2nd sentence - can say "solo dance tamed for a unison group"
4th para - elaborate more on the cardboard boxes (eg. used on the sidewalk to spin on)
5th para - too much description on the stage - get to dance faster
6th para - in tuxedo coats and tails; looking
7th para - describe which parts of the choreography
8th para - "retaining" is a weak verb - try another; those robot-like movements are called "popping"
9th para - /
10th para - "at" half time; But there's still time "on the clock" for them.

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