An interview with Bouchra Ouizguen, a dancer and choreographer taking part in Kyoto Experiment 2019. Ouizguen held a workshop in July where participants from Kyoto could experience music and dance from her country of Morocco.
—Is there more diversity in the scene now?
Ouizguen In the past, even in the contemporary dance scene, it was mostly only men who succeeded. We started a company of only women because we wanted to change this situation. The reason why Mathilde Monnier and Boris Charmatz noticed me was because I was a woman. I stood out in the Moroccan dance scene which was composed of mostly men at the time.
I co-founded a school so that women could also receive an education that is sufficient to start a career in the performing arts. Unfortunately, this school had to close three years ago due to difficulties in funding, but we had many female teachers from various genres including dancers and musicians. In my own artistic work, I seek to connect different genders and different generations. To be democratic means to have various bodies, and I want to value creating in a realistic place with no hierarchies, and no fixed perspective.
—There is a powerful impact, like that of rituals and ceremonies that can be felt from "Corbeaux". I heard you were inspired by the body of a fascinating lady with a mental illness.
Ouizguen This piece looks further than simply being Moroccan, to the universal aspects of human beings. In one village I had visited, when I saw the ecstatic state of an 85-year-old woman, it was the most shocking thing I had ever seen. Then I imagined multiplying something that happened to a single body to many bodies, and changing the venue for each show. It is a risky piece, in a good way.
In the Moroccan version of "Corbeaux", all the performers leave the stage at the end, to finally leave a 10-year-old girl. We are ending a performance inspired by an 85-year-old woman, with a 10-year-old girl. Usually, there is a strange perception that dance is something that comes from young and energetic people, but this piece questions that - dance could originate from other people as well.
—Like an epitome of a democratic society.
Ouizguen At the same time as being an epitome, this group of performers themselves are the society that changes and adapts depending on the situation. There will be 9 performers on stage in Kyoto, but there were 37 in Paris. We chose the Louvre Museum, or the riverside as venues. The venue and number of performers is decided upon consideration, of the relationship between the meaning and place of showing this piece. Each time, we go to the venue two hours before the performance, do a 30-minute rehearsal, perform, and then move to the next place.
—Kyoto has its own version of "Corbeaux"?
Ouizguen It may be an exaggeration to say that we deconstruct the dance scene of each city, but for example in Kyoto, I think what we are doing is stepping out of the boundaries of Kyoto's theatres to meet a different audience. This is exciting for the performers, for creators like myself, and for the audience. In each city we visit, we strive to make a huge impression on the city's dance scene.
Interviewed and organised by Mari Takeda (Dance critic)
At the HOTEL ANTEROOM KYOTO on July 11th 2019