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El Djoudour, the roots

El Djoudour, the roots

El Djoudour

Indeed, in 2008, on Nawal Ait Benalla-Lagraa's initiative, Abou Lagraa left to Algeria to try to find his roots, his past. As evidence the 2 artists decided to work on it, to commit themselves by creating "The French-Algerian Mediterranean Cultural Bridge" there.

Meeting the dancers of the Contemporary Ballet of Algiers, getting involved in working with them (the outcome being the creation of Nya in 2010 then Universe Africa – tribute to Nina Simone in 2012) rediscovering the daily life in a country where so much remains to be done, all this could not leave Abou Lagraa untouched. He is indeed so similar and yet so different. 

El Djoudour is the third creation with the Algerian dancers.

For this show, Abou Lagraa drew his inspiration from his Algerian roots. As a western dancer and choreographer, French, North African, he would like to focus this creation on his own perception of the body in Muslim culture (and not of the Muslim faith), a body marked by modesty and respect of privacy. 

Strongly marked by frustration with separation between men and women, Abou Lagraa shows in El Djoudour a range of relations between the two sexes, far from the usual clichés.

The show opens on an empty space, a public square (" El Fada " in Arabic) structured by metal racks that define the space of men and women. Lagraa shows the tensions from the frustration of not being able to share the same space, to touch each other. The bodies confront themselves, are free, the lines move, sensuality is revealed.

To guide his creative process, Abou Lagraa refers to two basic elements of oriental culture: water (instrument of purification and source of life) and earth (the one from which we come from, which feeds our roots). The dancers are as protected by land and water, wrapped in a symbolic garment that allows finally them to touch each other, preserving their modesty and their freedom.

This body language honours the original features of generosity, sharing and brotherhood of the oriental culture.

The dance in El Djoudour reveals the ambivalence between feminity and masculinity, it’s a dance of body states, a total commitment. 

The composer Olivier Innocenti's subtle music supports this idea of “no man’s land”. Algerian singer Houria Aïchi honors and refers to the sacred past. Contemporary music mixed sacred songs provides the link between narrative and abstraction, the organic and the spiritual, the past and the present. These collaborators joined Abou Lagraa’s never-ending quest which is as spiritual as it is artistic. He’s looking for poetry of human relationships.

El Djoudour comes from the choreographer’s roots, his personal history and his vision of Muslim culture while operating a syncretism with other horizons represented by fourteen dancers with different stories and personal experiences, from multiple ethnics origins (Algerians, Indians, French, Cameroon, Sweden, Comoros). This diversity of body proposes a new interpretation of the body in the oriental culture. 

El Djoudour is like a mirror in which we can look at ourselves to see and love others.


Source : Abou Lagraa


En savoir plus : www.aboulagraa.fr

Lagraa, Abou

Born in Annonay, Abou Lagraa began dancing at the age of 16 before entering the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse, Lyon. He began his career as a dancer at the S.O.A.P. Dance Theatre, Frankfurt with Rui Horta and became his assistant on a project at the Calouste Gulbenkian Centre, Lisbon. He was soon noticed and went on to work with Robert Poole, Denis Plassard and Lionel Hoche. His qualities as a performer have been rewarded twice:  in 1998 by the 2nd Prize for performance at the Paris International Dance Competition, then in 2009 by the prize for Best Male Dancer, awarded by the International Movimentos Dance Prize. In 1997 he founded his own company, La Baraka.


Once again, recognition came quickly; numerous French venues programmed the young choreographer and he received proposals for collaboration. As a result, after 4 years as an associated artist at Bonlieu Scène Nationale in Annecy, since 2009 Abou Lagraa and his company have been hosted in production residency at Gémeaux Scène Nationale, Sceaux. The fame of the company spread rapidly beyond France's borders and tours followed one after the other, throughout Europe and also in the United States, Algeria, Tunisia and Indonesia… Alongside his work with the company, Abou Lagraa is regularly in demand by large organisations.

In 2001 he devised Fly, Fly for the CCN Ballet de Lorraine. This piece later was subsequently added to the repertoire of the ABC Dance Company of St Pölten in Austria.


In 2003 he devised a work for the second-year students of the Centre National de Danse Contemporaine, Angers, then in 2007 for the pupils of the Frankfurt Hochschule and the pupils of the Centre Méditerranéen de Danse Contemporaine, Tunis.

In 2006 his work entered the repertoire of the Paris Opéra Ballet with Le Souffle du Temps, a piece for 21 dancers, including 3 étoiles (Marie-Agnès Gillot, Manuel Legris, Wilfried Romoli). Then, in 2008, he composed Everyone's One at the invitation of Ballet Memphis (USA).


Since 2009, in association with the Algerian Ministry of Culture and th Algerian Agency for the Cultural Brilliance, he works, with Nawal Aït Benalla-Lagraa, in the elaboration of a “Mediterranean Cultural Bridge", the project of French-Algerian cooperation for the development of the dance and the artistic exchanges which will contain a program of Training and creation. In this frame, he sees confiding for July, 2009, the choreography of Closing ceremony of the 2nd Pan-African Festival of Algiers. In 2010, he creates the Ballet Contemporain d'Alger, under the Nawal Aït Benalla-Lagraa's educational responsibility, with a first piece NYA. The success of which ends in several national and international tours.


This piece was to be distinguished in 2011 when it was awarded the Grand Prix de la Critique as “Best Choreography of the Year”.

In 2016, he becomes the « Dream up » ambassador, an international arts-based education programme set up by the BNP Paribas foundation. This programme will help some 30,000 underprivileged or disabled children and teenagers to develop and find fulfilment by practising an artistic or creative activity. 


In 2016, he becomes “Chevalier des arts et des lettres” nominated by the French ministry of culture. 


Source : Cie La Baraka


More information : https://www.aboulagraa.fr/ 

Cie La Baraka / La Chapelle - Abou & Nawal Lagraa


Djoudour (El)

Choreography : Abou Lagraa

Original music : Olivier Innocenti

Lights : Nicolas Faucheux

Other collaborations : Chants Houria Aïchi. Soutiens du Pont Culturel Méditerranéen : Fondation BNP Paribas. Résidence La compagnie : La Baraka est en résidence de production aux Gémeaux / Sceaux / Scène Nationale de 2009 à 2014. Résidence de création : Grand Théâtre de Provence – Marseille Provence 2013 / Capitale Européenne de la Culture Conseil Général des Bouches du Rhône – Centre départemental de créations en résidence. Ness El Fen - Tunis (Tunisie)

Production / Coproduction of the choreographic work : Cie La Baraka Coproduction : Grand Théâtre de Provence – Marseille Provence 2013 / Capitale Européenne de la Culture. Les Gémeaux / Sceaux / Scène Nationale. Théâtre National de Chaillot. Holland Festival / Amsterdam. La Coursive, Scène Nationale / La Rochelle. Le Théâtre* / Scène Nationale de Narbonne

Duration : 1 heure 10 sans entracte

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