“Culture and art must remain accessible and fully reach all audiences”

photo Joel Saget AFP

Mehdi Kerkouche is the choreographer for the beginning of the year. He succeeded Mourad Merzouki as director of the National Choreographic Center of Créteil and Val-de-Marne, and he opened the 2023 edition of the Suresnes Cités Danse festival with Picturehis new creation.

Picture refers to the family. Is your dance family, that of your company EMKA?
What interested me in the idea of ​​the picture, not only this representation of the group but also to imagine what paths led them to meet, live together, live together or separate. This is indeed a picture, five years later, of this same family that is probably not the same. We built the company five years ago now, so the oldest has been there for five years. And the little kittens that joined us on the road were there for two years.

Is this family too big for this show?
Yes Amy Swanson join us specifically for this project. He is co-lead The gaze of the sign in Belleville. To talk about family, I have to fully represent all personalities and all ages. Often, when we watch a dance performance, we see young and thin dancers with strange physiques. Amy is 67 years old, she has been a dancer for over 40 years. It was very cool in the show to see him dancing next to Jawed who is only 19 years old.

Why did you choose to leave the board bare?
I had an idea for a scenography that I had sketched and budgeted and I realized that nine performers on the set was too big. I don’t need to add any embellishments. I think, in simplicity, we can find many things. We focus on the movement, the choreographic character, the material, the relationship with the body and the dancers present. And it is just as powerful because of the light of having a massive scenography.

2023 is a fast start, as you are both in Suresnes Cités Danse, and since January 1st you have also taken the CCN direction of Créteil and Val-de-Marne. What is your project?
I didn’t really realize it at the time because I was completely in the creation. The project I am bringing to this area is really the evolution of my company’s work over the past five years. I set it up to create shows and events, to give dance lessons, to break the boundary between the public and the fourth wall, to allow people to join us. What I would put in Créteil is continuity, but with more resources. I hope it’s still like that. So I will go there with the pressure of course of a title and appointment of Madam Minister, but I will also go there in a very conscious way of the importance of this responsibility.

You are one of the artists who did not give up in 2020 while in prison, maintaining contact with the public. Why was it so important to you?
I’ve been in show business for a long time. And as soon as I was locked in my house, I was under stress. All the shows I was supposed to start were canceled. Being passionate, I continued to be creative. If I were a painter, I would continue painting. If I were a singer, I would have continued to sing. We continue to unite the public through social networks.

Is this also a way for you to renew audiences?
When we broadcast the piece I did for the Paris Opera ballet on television, we got a lot of feedback from the public who said “thank you” because they couldn’t make it to Paris. . You have to pay for tickets to go to Paris, and when you have a family, it adds up quickly. And in fact, the community we have created in social networks thanks to all the actions implemented during the imprisonment, such as the festival We dance at your house, prove the importance of maintaining this idea of ​​cultural accessibility. Culture, art, in general, must remain accessible and fully reach all audiences. That is how we are able to educate people. It is how we manage to send our messages and our information. And the festival – which for its 3rd edition brought 2,000 spectators in one day – will continue in Créteil.

Which choreographers would you like to work with at Créteil?
The CCN system will allow me to continue to develop my work, but also support emerging talents. I’ve been doing it for three years We dance at your house. The good thing is that I use this platform to allow the public to discover all styles of dance. I want to continue to do this to offer the highest performance, the highest diversity, both in the way of living, of being, of creating, of reflecting in dance; it is not necessarily shown in the set alone, but in 25,000 different forms.

Interview by Stéphane CAPRON – www.sceneweb.fr

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