Abou Lagraa takes his Baraka to Algiers
Fadwa Miadi - 08/05/2009
Consecrated best international dancer for 2009, Abou Lagraa will receive this honour next 12 May during the International Movimientos Dance Festival, a major appointment for professional dancers. An enthusiastic interview with the French-Algerian choreograph who, ten years ago, founded Baraka, a name that suits this company.
“I am honoured and very pleased by this consecration. I started my dancing career twenty years ago and have been signing choreographies for ten years now”, reveals Abou Lagraa who says he discovered dancing by chance in Annonay, his hometown. “A friend of mine proposed to take a jazz course. I was 16 back then and an hour later I knew it was going to be my future. It was love at first sight. I had found the way to express myself and grow”, follows on this 39 year old.
Born in Lyon from an Algerian father and an Egyptian mother, through dance this artist asks himself about man, life, man’s place on earth and especially on how to co-exist with our differences, to build a new world with energy and trust.
Today Abou Lagraa - who has already created about ten choreographies - is full of projects. One of his favourite ones was entrusted to him by Khalida Toumi, the Algerian Minister of Culture, to develop choreographic art in Algeria. This ambitious undertaking - to which he participates as associate artist – should start up on next January and is meant to “revamp” the National Algerian Ballet created in 1962, right after the country’s independence. Nothing could be as titillating for Abou Lagraa than forming a new generation of dancers in the country of his roots. The twenty ballet dancers that will work with the founder of Baraka, will be initiated to contemporary, modern and hip hop dance but also to Abou Lagraa’s choreographic writing. How does he define it? “My body language is a mix of all these styles and at the same time it widely borrows from my origins. There is, for example, a lot of movement of the pelvis, shoulders and forearms but also of the hands”, he specifies. “This project allows me to open a cutlrual bridge between France and Algeria”, he confides, stating his happiness to be back to this country that he had no chance to set foot back on for twenty years. “I want to prove that Algerians are open and break the barriers”, he follows. The result of this work with the Algerian ballet will be shown at Lyon in 2010 and follow on with a European tour.
“This experience is giving me a new creative impulse. In Europe we’re going round in circles. The crisis hasn’t only touched economy and finance. There is also crisis in terms of creativity and open-mindedness” affirms Abou Lagraa whose favourite interest in choreography is mixing styles and cultures.
The other projects of Baraka? The company, who is producing in residence at Gémeaux, Scène Nationale de Sceaux until 2011, will be present at the Rendez-Vous Chorégraphiques in Sceaux next 5 and 6 May. While waiting to see how he will transform the national ballet formed by the Russian school, the Algerian public will be able to discover the surprising and aquatic Allegoria Stanza - one of Abou Lagraa’s creations - on 18 May in Algiers (El Mouggar Theatre), on the 21st at the Regional Theatre of Oran and on the 24th at the Regional Theatre of Sidi Bellabes. Also on the closing day of the Pan African festival on July 20 in Algiers, where he will stage a new show together with composer and director Farid Aouamer.
Others can watch him dance in duo with his lovely wife, Nawal Ait Benalla, on May 14 at 8.30 PM on Arte, which will broadcast during the delivery of the award for Best International Dancer an excerpt of D'Eux Sens, Baraka’s last piece. This sensual choreography draws its inspiration from the Sufi poems of Omar Khayyam that evoke “everyday life, love, hope, beauty, death and life, and new beginnings…”, summarises Abou Lagraa.
Translated from French by Nada Ghorayeb