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Portrait: Intercultural dialogue - In the eyes of Fouad Boussouf

"Näss" by Compagnie Massala © Charlotte Audureau

Choreographer Fouad Boussouf and his Compagnie Massala have been invited with their cross-cultural piece Näss (People in Arabic) by The Joyce Theater in New York and Global Arts Live in Boston where they will hopefully be able to perform in 2021, both with the support of a grant from the 2020 FUSED program. Created in 2018 at the Pôle Culturel d'Alfortville, France, Näss has since toured all over the world in countries such as Bulgaria (Aerowaves Spring Forward Festival), The Netherlands (Festival Moving-Futures), Germany (Festival Perspectives & Tanzfestival Rhein-Main), The United Kingdom (Riley Theatre), Sweden (Norrlandsoperan & tour with Dancenet Sweden), Norway (Dansens Hus) and China (Beijing Dance Festival).

Näss: Between Traditional Dances and Urban Cultures

"The Moroccan society as a form of permanent effervescence is what I experience every time I return to Morocco, a society that has found a unique voice between modernity and being anchored to unchanging tradition. This contrast attracts me and unleashes a force that I seek to seize, by daring to confront it in dance". — Fouad Boussouf

Created for seven male performers, Näss is a piece at the crossroads of the traditional and the modern. Fouad Boussouf, originally from Morocco, dares to confront cultures and generations by creating intense and acrobatic choreography. Inspired by Gnawa traditions and taskiouine, regadda as well as ahidous Moroccan dances, Fouad Boussouf questions his own roots by combining them with hip-hop, modern-jazz, and contemporary circus. This identity claim is carried by the dancers’ bodies as their fluid movements transcend cultural borders.

© Charlotte Audureau

Näss: From Regional Influence to the Quest for Universality

"I composed NÄSS like a breath, simultaneously physical and mystical, which reminds us how important it is to be firmly rooted in the ground and in one’s land in order to feel its vibrations." – Fouad Boussouf

Fouad Boussouf's artistic creation is a symbol of harmony and balance. Having different backgrounds and various technical training from ballet to kung fu, the artists perform powerful and energetic gestures as if they were one. The music composed by Roman Bestion and the influence of the group Nass el Ghiwane give rhythm to the bodies and carry the French-Moroccan dialogue. The simplicity and rigor of the staging highlights the barefoot and identically dressed dancers moving with freedom and ecstasy. Fouad Boussouf's work is a succession of powerful relationships between moments of liveliness and respite, and moments of individual and group movements. On the verge of exhaustion, the artists continue to dance and jump as if bewitched by the music.

Näss: Second Piece of Fouad Boussouf's Trilogy

Beginning with Transe in 2013, Fouad Boussouf created Näss in 2018 and Oüm, this year, in 2020.

The artist has set a series of choreographies based on the Arab world following a precise geographical path: Transe is located in the Middle East and is influenced by the poems of Mahmoud Darwich, Näss takes place in North Africa and pays tribute to the hippie group Nass el Ghiwane, and finally Oüm occurs in Egypt where the singer and actress Oum Khaltoum lived. Through these performances, Fouad Boussouf addresses different themes such as the search for identity, social upheavals, and cultural mixing in a warm and intense atmosphere. 

Thus, if Näss takes you on an inner journey next year, don't hesitate to discover Fouad Boussouf's latest creation Oüm for new sensations!

About Fouad Boussouf

Choreographer, dancer, and teacher, Fouad Boussouf trained as a hip-hop dancer – his favorite style – but takes inspiration from different dance forms, including contemporary dance. Born in Morocco, Fouad Boussouf moved to France in 1983. He holds an MA and a Master in Social Sciences at the University of Paris XII, Créteil, where he also teaches for the module «Dance and Culture of the World». He worked in different dance conservatories in Ile-de-France and performed for Ahmed Lahcen, Farid Berki, Pierre Doussaint, Trick Nasty Crew, and Megajam. His multidisciplinary career and experience as a performer make for a resolutely modern approach to choreography and dancing, where hip-hop meets and merges with contemporary expression, traditional North-African dances, and new circus. Difficult to classify, his work fuses these influences and addresses pressing contemporary topics through the performances of his dancers.

About Compagnie Massala

Established by dancer and choreographer Fouad Boussouf in 2010, Compagnie Massala blends styles and artistic practices as diverse as hip-hop, contemporary dance, and new circus, as well as traditional dance forms and music from Morocco and the Arab World. At the heart of the artistic development of the company lays the sensual and physical relationship to its roots and mixed cultures. Fouad Boussouf has created various pieces with Compagnie Massala including À Condition (2011), Afflux (2012), Concept Lavoir (2013), Transe (2013), Les Éléments (2013), Esperluette (2014), Le Moulin du Diable (2015), Näss (2018) and Oüm (2020).