French-Algerian Dance Troupe Compagnie Hervé Koubi to Perform at Holy Cross

Company members to offer classroom visits, lecture demonstrations, and workshops in contemporary dance, hip-hop, capoeira, and African dance

Arts Transcending Borders in conjunction with the French Program’s annual Semaine de la Francophonie celebrations and is free and open to the public.

In 2009, inspired by the discovery of family roots in Algeria, young French choreographer Hervé Koubi embarked on a journey across the Mediterranean. He formed an all-male company of 12 Algerian and Burkina Faso dancers, most of whom come from street dance backgrounds. The company’s performances combine capoeira, urban and contemporary dance to produce powerful imagery that seems to defy gravity. Koubi’s choreography for “Ce que le jour doit à la nuit,” (“What the day owes the night”) is inspired by the best-selling book by the same name written by Yasmina Khadra, the pen name of high-ranking Algerian general Mohammed Moulessehoul.

The Washington Post hailed the work’s U.S. debut in 2013 a “stunning fusion of acrobatics, gymnastics, b-boying, modern dance and ballet.” At the College, excerpts from the work will be performed on the main floor of the Hogan Ballroom, with the audience surrounding the dancers. The company will also spend two days from March 14-15 on campus engaging in cultural exchange with the campus community through class visits, lecture demonstrations, and workshops in contemporary dance, hip-hop, capoeira (a form of Brazilian martial arts), and African dance, including a special workshop with the College’s Fusion Hip Hop Dance Team.

“Having that very personal kind of encounter is what makes this so special,” says Yonca Karakilic, coordinator of Arts Transcending Borders. “We had a similar experience with a dance ensemble from Aceh, Indonesia last year. Students may not be familiar with global cultures different than their own, but in a dance workshop, there is an immediate connection over a shared interest.” Karakilic saw the company perform in New York City at the Association of Performing Arts Presenters’ 2015 conference, saying that even without any staging in a showcase setting the performance was “mesmerizing.” The dancers will be visiting Holy Cross between tour stops in Boston and Houston, on their third U.S. tour since their 2013 debut.

All dance classes Koubi’s company will visit on campus have a significant number of student athletes participating. “Dancing is, in a way, cross training for athletes,” Timothy Driscoll ’16, who plays forward on the men’s ice hockey team, explains. “The dance classes I have taken at Holy Cross have taught me how to be more in control of my body and how to move in ways that aren’t necessarily natural for most athletes. Many professional athletes have learned some form of dance and they all will say that it helps their performance. I definitely agree.”

“There is so much hard work that goes into both athletics and dance,” Karakilic says, “but that’s not where the parallels stop. Strength, flexibility, timing, balance, and control are all very important to both disciplines. Arts Transcending Borders is excited to bring this performance to campus that will challenge cultural, disciplinary, and even campus borders.”

Learn more about Compagnie Hervé Koubi.