4, 5, 7/05 — 20:30
8/05 — 22:00
50 min

Tunisian choreographers and dancers Selma and Sofiane Ouissi closely associate artistic and social engagement. For their project Laaroussa, which is premiering at the festival, the brother and sister duo immersed themselves in a rural community, focusing on a group of female potters. Observing the women's physical labour, they have invented a choreographic writing inspired by the repetitive gestures performed to collect water, crush brick and model clay... Removed from the material, these gestural particles become an abstract and sensual choreography in which hands perform the leading role. Combining the minimalist mechanics of the flesh with documentary video images and in a highly intimate relationship with the audience, Laaroussa questions the body as textuality. A body unconsciously shaped by its environment, "subject to tasks", which allows a glimpse however of the possibility of a free subject inventing its own gestures.

By & with
Selma & Sofiane Ouissi

Cécil Thuillier

Photography & editing
Nicola Sburlati

Caroline Boë

Scenography & lighting
Simon Siegmann

Stage & sound manager
Eric Faes

Costumes & artistic collaboration
Véronique Leyens

Camera assistant
Pierre Dejon

Sound engineer (video)
Jonathan Le Fourn

Caridad Martos

Victor Portoles Alma

Chedlia Saïdani

Set direction
Habib Saïdni

Production manager
Aulde Cazorla

Women/potters of the Laaroussa collective
Malika Saidani, Naïma Saidani, Najia Saidani, Habiba Saidani, Naziha Jemiï, Hada Riahi, Dalila Riahi, Sabiha Mechergui, Naïma Chatti, Fatma Saïdani, Sassia Riahi, Sabiha Saïdani, Fadhila Saïdani, Dalila Wassila Saïdani, Hanen Saïdani, Halima Maalaoui, Cherifa Riahi, Houda Jemiï, Aïda Jemiï, Aïcha Rebeh Jemiï, Aziza jemiï, Aljia Jmii, Hajer Saïdani, Sassia Saïdani, Fatma Saïdani, Habiba Saïdani, Habiba Saliha Saïdani, Sabiha Ayari, Safia Saïdani, Halima Saïdani, Aljia Saîdani, Jemâa Selmi, Cherifa Saïdani, Lamia Saïdani, Hadda Saïdani, Jannet Ghouili, Salouha Saïdani, Hada Saïda Saïdani, Jannet Saïdani, Hidhba Saïdani, Khaoula Saïdani, Habiba Ayari, Saliha Saïdani, Emna Saïdani, Salha Stili, Naziha Saïdani, Sabiha Saïdani, Maryam Saïdani, Fadhila Saïdani, Tounes Saidani, Radhia Maalaoui, Kaouther Saîdani, Zina Mechergui

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, KVS

Muzaq (France)

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Marseille Provence 2013, Communauté d'Agglomération du Pays d'Aubagne et de l'Étoile, L'Art Rue (Tunis), Bonlieu Scène nationale (Annecy), La Bâtie-Festival de Genève in the framework PACT (INTERREG IV A France-Suisse 2007-2013), Zürcher Theater Spektakel

Ambassade de Suisse en Tunisie, Institut Français, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication français, Ministère des Affaires Etrangères français, région PACA, Ministère de la Culture de Tunisie, Département SATIS/Faculté des Sciences, Aix-Marseille Université

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A free body inventing its own gesture

This is a story about the body undergoing metamorphosis, driven by a tremendous vital energy and shown in an original relationship with the world in choreographic terms but also as part of a topical questioning about society. This relationship with the world is the outcome of several factors coming together: the environment, the mastery of an expertise, the specific imagination, economic conditions, the factor of time and, more than anything else, a holistic approach to the world. It is a place where the body's semantics are elaborated naturally with all the prerequisites this implies, opening up areas in which a remarkable body appears.

The female potters of Sejnane are always in the same environment; it is not a matter of choice for them, all they can do is work on this connection with the raw material in the ground around them. Developed by their living conditions and environment, their bodies - tools dominated by their day-to-day tasks and their expertise - have the power to express how their world actually is, to reveal its invisible side from time to time. Their art is linked to their deepest roots colouring a gestural expression. Their expertise is rich in gestural particles that have escaped the ever fermenting macrocosm.

Confronted with this aesthetic field, the body workshop held with the potters every morning was devised to make their bodies' imaginative world appear and be legible. The repeated gestures used to model a piece of pottery, movements involving their entire body in the landscape, collecting the clay, water and mastic, adapting their postures to grind the brick and mix and model the clay, and the long walks involved are all parts of the story of the body unleashing a singular way of being in the world.

As though it involved accomplishing an act of survival, every gesture is linked as much to the body's symbolism as its action. Dance or choreography is incorporated into all their actions, with the difference that here the body, above all the moving body, is the subject, object and tool of its own knowledge all in one. This generates another perception, another awareness of the world. That is to say that we were in the presence of all the components a dancer works on over the years to be in the presence of the "right" body.

These workshops developed an awareness of isolated parts of the body, of touch, of listening to the other person's body and the importance of feeling deeply the resonances of the aesthetic experience brought about by their expertise. This work offers an understanding of all the references and gestures on which their aesthetic fields are based and in which their activities are performed. Such physical experiences heighten the scale of desires. It is also about dealing with the body in a group like the construction of a body of your own through the perception of someone else's body, allowing a sharing of intersubjective experiences. Taking time to listen to your body, to massage it, to close your eyes, to experiment on your moving body: time they are not allowed because their bodies are "subjugated to tasks".

However this rough, almost naive body unconsciously worked on by their living conditions puts us in the presence of a free body, the inventor of its own gesture. With the female potters of Sejnane, "the subject's bearing" coincides with the subject itself, giving itself entirely to the gesture with the result that the poetics of their gestures produce the feeling of being present in the action. Their bodies talk like textuality, reflecting their thoughts, their pasts, their lives and their environment. It is dense and heavy with dexterous hands, each one of them having a singular presence. Through their moving bodies they carry impressions or traces that are reflections of a body that has passed through and released a state, a shock, a light.

Selma & Sofiane Ouissi

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Choreographic artists Selma & Sofiane Ouissi, alias Muzaq, are sister and brother and have danced together since the beginning of their careers. Graduates of the Conservatory of Music and Dance and the National Centre of Dance in Tunis, and holders of the Diplôme d’Etat as professor of dance in France, they are considered major figures of contemporary dance in the Arab world. Collaborating with directors and renowned choreographers (Fadhel Jaziri, Hichem Rostom, Martino Muller, and the Compagnie Michèle Anne de Mey), the duo has performed in numerous shows worldwide and at live art festivals (Théatre de la Ville in Paris, Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Tanzquartier in Vienna, Danse in Aix, Bouffes du Nord in Paris, and Festival de Carthage). Among their personal creations are STOP... BOOM (2004) and Waçl (2007), programmed repeatedly in the Arab world and in Europe. They are associated with Yacine Sebti, a digital arts creative, having realized with him their latest choreographic piece Here(s), which has been touring on both shores of the Mediterranean since 2011. That same year, they realized, together with director Cécil Thuillier, a choreographic film inspired by the work of women potters from Sejnane, and were on the programme at the Palais de Tokyo Triennale in Paris until August 2012. In 2007, Selma & Sofiane Ouissi also founded the collective L’Art Rue, dedicated to the production and dissemination of contemporary art in public spaces in Tunisia, and created the art biennale Dream City (the third edition was held in the autumn of 2012).

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