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Lagraa - Aït Benalla, Nawal

Born in Morocco of a Berber father and French mother, Nawal Aït Benalla Lagraa moved to France with her family when she was eight. She began ballet very young and completed her classical training, during which she tackled the repertoire’s great roles. Before long, Nawal broadened her dancing and became interested in contemporary and jazz styles. She took part in
productions with the Armstrong Jazz Ballet, where she had the opportunity to work with choreographers as contrasting as Wayne Barbaste and Géraldine Armstrong, Georges Momboye and Matt Mattox... 

An artist in the fullest sense, open to diverse forms of artistic expression, Nawal was soon approached by many other choreographers and directors.
As a result, she has performed in Jacques Weber’s Cyrano de Bergerac at the Théâtre du Châtelet, in Yannis Kokkos’ The Trojans and at Opéra Bastille with Blanca Li... She has also taken part in numerous audiovisual events. 

Passionately committed to exchanges and teaching, in 2005 she obtained her State Diploma as a dance teacher at the Centre National de la Danse, Pantin (Paris). 

She joined the La Baraka company in 2006 for Matri(k)is and became Abou Lagraa’s assistant for the Ballet Memphis (USA) commission in 2007. 

For the Lyon International Dance Biennial in 2008, Abou Lagraa devised the duet D Eux Sens for Nawal and himself. 

In 2009, she assisted Abou Lagraa for the Closing Ceremony of the Pan African Festival in Algiers. This was a revelation for her, and she decided to dedicate herself more fully to training young Algerian dancers, offering them professional status through an introduction to contemporary dance. 

In 2010, in addition to performing in Un monde en soi, a piece for seven dancers and the Debussy Quartet, she helped Abou Lagraa develop the Mediterranean Cultural Bridge project for which she took over the educational leadership. 

In her own words This intensive training is, in my opinion, the right way to convey to these young performers, committed in body and in soul, the appreciation for hard work and thought that you need to gain access to the state of dance, to freedom... 

She continues to teach while NYA is on tour, and shares her love of teaching in many workshops and masterclasses, particularly in France, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland, Russia, the USA... 

She assisted Abou Lagraa for his 2012 creation, Univers l Afrique, and helps the dancers of the Algiers Contemporary Ballet in their teaching mission to help a new generation of teacher/dancers bloom in Algeria. 

Source : La Baraka

En savoir plus :

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 : 

Sodini, Brice

Compagnie La Baraka - Abou Lagraa

Premier(s) Pas

Choreography : Nawal Lagraa Aït Benalla (volet 1), Abou Lagraa (volet 2)

Interpretation : Volet 1 : Justine Bennaghmouch Christin, Anne-Caroline Boidin Okretic, Valentin Genin, Margot J.Libanga, Jethro Kitutila Furaha, Johana Malédon, Rhiannon Morgan, Angéla Urien / Danseuse remplaçante volet 1 : Natacha Gourvil / Volet 2 : Justine Bennaghmouch Christin, Anne-Caroline Boidin Okretic, Valentin Genin, Margot J.Libanga, Jethro Kitutila Furaha, Johana Malédon, Rhiannon Morgan, Angéla Urien / Danseur remplaçant volet 2 : Ludovic Collura

Original music : Volet 1 : Olivier Innocenti à partir de Agnus Dei de Samuel Barber

Additionnal music : Volet 2 : Jean Sébastien Bach, Sonatas et Partitas pour violon seul interprétée par Hélène Schmitt (musique enregistrée)

Lights : Alain Paradis

Costumes : Charlotte Pareja

Technical direction : Tommy Boisseau

Production / Coproduction of the choreographic work : Production : Cie La Baraka accompagnée par les Fondations Edmond de Rothschild / Co-production : Théâtre de Suresnes Jean Vilar / Suresnes Cités Danse 2020 ; Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg ; Chaillot Théâtre National de la Danse

Duration : 1h10

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