The International Theatre Institute is happy to announce that following the footsteps of Merce Cunningham, Maurice Béjart, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Mourad Merzouki ? the French choreographer, dancer, director of the Centre chorégraphique de Créteil et du Val de Marne and of Käfig?s company, and above all, the famous face of hip hop in France ? will be giving the 2014 International Dance Day Message.
Since its creation in 1982, the International Dance Day celebrated every year on the birthday of the creator of modern ballet Jean-Georges Noverre 29th April, is the occasion to give homage to dance and its universality, crossing all political, cultural and ethnic barriers.
The International Theatre Institute marks this global occasion each year by inviting an outstanding choreographer or dancer to write a message. This message is translated into more than 20 languages and released throughout the ITI network (more than 70 ITI Centres and numerous Cooperating Members) and dance organizations worldwide. ITI will celebrate International Dance Day at UNESCO in Paris on 29th April, with the presence of Mourad Merzouki.
Mourad Merzouki’s Message
Every artist takes pride in his art.Every artist will always defend the art form whose encounter has changed his life.
For that which he has sought and lost and for that which he has the burning desire to share: be it the echo of a voice, the discovered word, the interpretation of a text for humanity, the music without which the universe will stop speaking to us, or the movement which opens the doors to grace.
I have, for dance, not only the pride of a dancer and choreographer, but profound gratitude. Dance gave me my lucky break. It has become my ethics by virtue of its discipline and provided the means through which I discover the world daily.
Closer to me than anything else, it gives me strength each day through the energy and generosity as only dance can. Its poetry comforts me.
Could I say that I wouldn?t exist without dance? Without the capacity for expression it has given me? Without the confidence I have found in it to overcome my fears, to avoid dead ends?
Thanks to dance, immersed in the beauty and complexity of the world, I have become a citizen. A peculiar citizen who reinvents the social codes in the course of his encounters, remaining true to the values of the hip-hop culture which transforms negative energy into a positive force.
I live and breathe dance daily as an honour. But I am living with this honour deeply concerned. I witness around me the loss of bearings and the inability of some of the youth from the working class, growing up in tension and frustration, to imagine their future. I am one of them; so are we all. I am driven, perhaps more than others, by setting an example, to help them fuel their lust for life.
For isn?t society richer with the richness of each of us?
Culture, more than any discourse, unites. So have courage and take risks despite the obstacles and the hatred with which you will no doubt be confronted; the beauty of the world will always be by your side. Like dance has been for me. With its singular force to eliminate social and ethnic distinctions, leaving but the movement of bodies in their essence, of human beings returning to their pure expression, unique and shared.
I would like to end by quoting René Char whose words remind me daily to not let anyone confine us to scripted roles.
?Push your luck, hold on tight to your good fortune, and take your risk. Watching you, they will get used to it.?
So try, fail, start all over again but above all, dance, never stop dancing!
Translation from French into English: Petya Hristova and Charlene Lim
Born in Lyon in 1973, Mourad Merzouki began practicing martial arts and circus arts at the age of seven. When he was fifteen, he encountered hip-hop culture for the first time and through it, he discovered dance. He quickly decided to develop this form of street art while also experimenting with other choreographic styles, particularly with other dance artists Maryse Delente, Jean-François Duroure and Josef Nadj.
The wealth of his experiences fed his desire to direct artistic projects, blending hip hop with other disciplines. It is what he did in 1989 with Kader Attou, Eric Mezino and Chaouki Sa?d when he created his first company ?Accrorap?. In 1994 the company performed Athina during Lyon?s Biennial Dance Festival; it was a triumph that brought street dance to the stage.
Merzouki?s travels have led him into unchartered territory, where dance can be a powerful means of communication. In order to develop his own artistic style and sensitivity, Merzouki established his own company, Käfig, in 1996.
In January 2006, the Company Käfig began residing in Espace Albert Camus in Bron. This linked theatre with the festival Karavel, created in 2007 by Mourad Merzouki, programming notably around 10 hip hop companies and other events in the city.
In parallel, he imagined and conceived a new place of choreographic creation and development, which led to Pôle Pik opening its doors in Bron in 2009.
In June 2009, Mourad Merzouki was appointed director of the Centre chorégraphique de Créteil et du Val de Marne. He continues to develop his projects there, with an accent on openness to the world. In 18 years, the choreographer has created 22 productions, and his company gives on average 150 performances per year around the world.