BWW Dance Review: Hervé Koubi's WHAT THE DAY OWES TO THE NIGHT, Joyce Theater, February 3, 2018
Before the curtain rose on "What the Day Owes to the Night," its choreographer, Hervé Koubi, appeared and made a short speech of introduction to himself and the dance.
It seems that Koubi learned some interesting facts about his past. When he was 25 his dying father revealed that he had Algerian roots, something that had never been revealed to him before. Astounded by this, Koubi, who had concentrated on a dancing career, having graduated from the Rosella Hightower School in Cannes, danced with the Opera de Marseille. and developed many contemporary dance projects with established artists the world over, decided to work with street dancers from Algeria and Burkina Faso. "What the Day Owes the Night " is Koubi's second collaboration with these dancers, setting out to investigate his Algerian background, "a mixing up of time and a story of links," as he says in the program.
The dance begins in darkness. As the hazy light comes up we see 13 male dancers rising from the floor, all bare-chested, wearing white pants with panel coverings. Soon they are whirling, flying, standing and rolling on their heads, climbing on a formation of men's backs, falling backward into the men's arms, incorporating hip-hop movements, street steps, all to Sufi music, as well as music by Maxime Bodson, Hamza El Din, and Jean Sebastian Bach. It was quite an experience to see this. The arc of propelling each other forward, of performing physical actions that most of us could and would have never attempted, is astounding. And for the first 25 minutes, it is magnetic. We can't take our eyes off these physical feats. However, the performance runs 65 minutes, so after our astonishment, we begin to worry. Yes, it was wonderful, enthralling. So what are you going to do next? The problem was they performed the same things again-and again. So what could've been a magnetic performance dissolved into a repetitious performance. It was too much of a good thing, Had it stopped after 30 minutes, I would have called this one the greatest feats I had seen. But with no editing, it became blurry.
There was also something missing in the performance: male camaraderie and companionship. These dancers come from street performing and have connections with each other. Whatever that is, love, friendship was never made apparent. There was just a continuation of physical feats. But no lull, no reaching out for a real connection with each other. It was hinted at, that's it. If only we would have a sense that dancing and friendship meet and need each other. Without that, it is all show, nothing more.
I would like to see more of Koubi's choreography. He has created many other works and been awarded the French medal of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. When can we see the rest?
Photo: Cherylynn Tsushima